Victorian government
The Victorian government has announced that it will be establishing student hubs in India, Asia and Latin America. Source: William West/AFP

Here’s some welcome news for international students who still can’t enter Victoria’s borders in Australia. The Victorian government has announced that it will be establishing student hubs in India, Asia and Latin America, scholarship programmes as well as research partnerships as part of its recovery plan to resuscitate Victoria’s international education sector. Indian students comprise the second largest group of international students in Australia; according to SBS Punjabi, the Victorian government will be setting up a Study Melbourne hub in India to attract new students and to connect existing students to Victorian education providers while they continue to study online. 

Speaking to SBS Punjabi, a state spokesperson said the hub will provide a physical location for remote learners to come together and access support and information on the variety of professional and lifestyle benefits of studying with a Victorian education provider, in addition to serving as a shared space for networking events. “An Indian hub will provide a shared study space as well as hosting information sessions for prospective students and regular networking events such as English conversation clubs.”

These short-term recovery plans aim to facilitate the recovery of the state’s 13.7 billion Australian dollars worth in the international education sector, which supports some 79,000 Victorian jobs, said Minister for Trade Martin Pakula in a press statement. Last year, over 250,000 international students travelled to study in the state; the current number has plummeted to 120,000 due to the pandemic. “International students are an important part of our vibrant community and this plan will ensure they have the support and resources they need not only to study in Victoria, but to thrive. We will go to the world and tell our story, which is compelling, to attract the next generation of students and create the foundations for a sustained recovery,” he said.

Victorian government bolstering efforts to support international students

The Victorian government’s recovery initiatives will also include a “Pathway to Victoria” scholarship programme, international research partnerships and more online presence by Study Melbourne Student Centre. These aim to attract new international students to choose Victoria as well as to ensure those in Victoria have access to the resources and support they need to thrive, said the statement.

The Victorian Global Education Network will be expanded into the emerging high-growth markets of Vietnam, Brazil and Africa, and five new international Study Melbourne Hubs will sit alongside the Government’s Trade and Investment Network, creating a pathway for students to study in Victoria and securing a greater share of overseas students studying online, said the statement.

These hubs will showcase Victoria’s global leadership in digital training and education innovation by connecting edtech companies, education providers, educators, researchers and investors to grow Victoria’s education services sector. TAFEs will also be supported to meet growing global demand for online professional short courses.

Australia’s borders have been shut to non-citizens and non-residents since March. The first batch of international students to return to Australia since borders closed in March touched down in Darwin on Nov. 30, 2020 under a pilot programme by Charles Darwin University and the Northern Territory. States across the country are under pressure to submit their plans for the return of international students to their states in 2021 after missing the November 2020 deadline by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.

Victoria has indicated that international students could return to the state as soon as January 2021 if a new proposal from the education sector comes through. The Victorian government is considering a proposal to fly up to 23,000 international students into Victoria early next year and allowing them to quarantine in student accommodation.