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Media release: A strong international education sector is vital for a strong post-COVID recovery

The Group of Eight, comprising Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, is in a strong position to advance Australia’s international education sector, however warns that diversification of the market will take time in an increasingly competitive global environment.

Group of Eight Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said, “the Go8 is well placed to build on our enduring and existing global research partnerships with like-minded nations, expanding on relationships such as the Five Eyes nations and the Quad, which includes India and Japan. These deep relationships will be important, as it must be recognised that we operate in a highly competitive global environment in which Australia is not the only country seeking to rebuild our economy post the pandemic. We must provide education and research in response to student demand as well as government policy.

“The Government’s goal to achieve greater diversification will take time. China’s dominance of the world’s international education market is unlikely to change in the short-term. As demonstrated during COVID however, the Go8 has the capacity to pivot and adapt to changing circumstances, resulting in international students sticking by our universities and continuing their studies offshore,” Ms Thomson said.

“There is no strong evidence however to assume that international students will accept online study as a continued alternative to the on campus experience. As the pandemic has progressed, students have become less satisfied with the online experience and early indications are that the opening up of the US, UK and Canada to face-to-face education for international students could see a move of international students to these markets.


Fostering international education and research is vital to Australia’s post COVID economic recovery.

“As at August 2021, Go8 universities recorded nearly 85,000 enrolments with over half (55%) of these in the identified Go8 strengths of research and postgraduate education. Targeting the education of this high-achieving cohort to sectors such as AI, cybersecurity, defence and space will build quality workforce capacity for industries of strategic importance to Australia. It will also provide an enhanced learning environment for domestic students

“To that end, facilitating short or long-term migration outcomes for high-achieving students in key disciplines such as engineering is imperative. The Government’s recent changes to visa settings will support this goal.”

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472