unsw quadrangle
University of NSW (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a major easing of border restrictions today that will see over 200,000 visa holders including international students, skilled migrants and refugees return to Australia in coming months. From December 1 fully vaccinated visa holders who have tested negative to COVID-19 will be allowed back into the country without having to apply for an exemption.

This announcement has significant implications for the higher education sector, following years of falling profits, disruption to degrees and general uncertainty about a future without international students. The absence of thousands of international students in Australia has been felt more widely, with knock-on effects to wage growth and skilled-labour shortages.

A survey by student marketing and recruitment firm IDP Connect found that while a large number of prospective students were still considering Australia for their studies, a significant market share has been lost to other major exporters of education.