Australia eyes return of overseas students

·2-min read

Australia's education minister has pledged a rapid increase in international students returning next year with hopes tens of thousands could be welcomed.

Alan Tudge on Friday told an international education conference the federal government was considering ways to rapidly expedite the return of students.

"Looking into next year, my expectation is that we will have very significant numbers coming in," he said.

"I cannot put a figure on that just yet, but my hope would be that tens of thousands can return."

Mr Tudge said limits would apply in the short-term but he remained hopeful caps would be scrapped to allow demand to drive student numbers rather than available places.

"When that occurs, I am confident that students will return in significant numbers."

Australia will restart international travel from November with citizens and permanent residents the first priority for arrivals and departures.

Skilled migrants and students from overseas are expected to be next, ahead of tourists.

Victoria is the latest state to submit a plan to the federal government, with the initial phase looking at 120 places each week from the end of this year.

Universities would pay for quarantine with students in addition to the existing arrivals cap.

NSW is expected to have around 500 international students return in December, while details around a South Australian plan are also being finalised.

"These are all very promising and they are happening this year," Mr Tudge said.

The education minister also wants a greater diversity of students entering Australia, which has largely relied on five countries but particularly China and India.

Mr Tudge said a concentrated market had financial risks and could also diminish local and overseas students' experience.

"Some universities have responded to this through limits on international students and limits on proportion of students from any one country," he said.

"We would obviously like to see universities themselves taking the lead on this, but we are also thinking deeply about policies to help facilitate this."

He said a greater diversity of courses for international students should be more closely aligned with Australia's skill needs so more people could become long-term residents.

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