The University of Queensland enrolled a record number of international students in 2021, even as the border remains closed, as higher education institutions continue to offer discounts to allow international students to continue their studies online .
The Universities of Queensland, Adelaide and Newcastle are among the top institutions in Australia offering discounts of up to 20% to keep international students enrolled online while they wait to resume travel.
But UQ has warned that its surge in enrollments was due to pent-up demand from students who missed out last year and that numbers are expected to drop in the future if borders remain closed.
The University of Newcastle, which offers a 20% discount, told Guardian Australia its program was resulting in a higher than expected rate of enrollment and accepted offers.
This year, international student enrollments at UQ have reached record highs – and enrollments from China are up 50% from 2020 levels despite widespread reports that
the students had been informed by the Chinese government to avoid Australia.
In Semester 1, 2021, UQ had 17,956 enrollments of international students, up from 16,612 in Semester 1, 2019, before the pandemic, and well above 14,882 registered in Semester 1, 2020.
Chinese student enrollments jumped to 11,265, up from 7,466 last year and 8,995 in 2019.
The university offers international students a 12.5% discount to register for a course and study online while staying in their “home country”, with the aim of coming to Australia when possible.
UQ said in February that 80% of new international students in Semester 1 were abroad. However, UQ Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said in a statement Monday that the record number of international students would likely decline over time.
“While international registrations for this semester are stronger than we expected, they reflect the trend we were seeing before the pandemic,” she said.
“This time last year, some students postponed their studies but, over time, they realize that they don’t want to put their lives on hold. They continue to study online in the hope that the borders will reopen and that they can come to campus for the full experience.
“However, if our borders remain closed, the outlook will remain uncertain and we will likely see these numbers decline in the following semesters.”
Other universities, like RMIT University in Melbourne, saw a 25% drop in new applications from international students compared to the same period last year.
Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Group of Eight, of which UQ is a member, said in February that other member universities have heard that Chinese authorities have warned students not to come to Australia.
“There is definitely something going on,” she told Nine Journals at the time. “Either officers are told not to direct students here, or they are told not to mention Australia as a study option. But we haven’t received any official notification from anyone. “
A spokesperson for the University of Sydney said at the time: “We have not received any information that students have been told not to enroll at our institution.”
The University of Newcastle and the University of Adelaide offer similar 20% fee waivers for those still offshore, while Charles Sturt University offers a 30% scholarship for international students studying in Australia as a their “study plans were impacted by the Closing of the Covid-19 borders”.
At the start of the academic year, a spokesperson for the University of Newcastle told Guardian Australia: “We have opened this offer to all returning international students and beginners currently located abroad. Fortunately, we have seen a conversion to listings at a higher rate than expected ”.
Australian universities have also seen an increase in postgraduate enrollment domestically.
Data on paying loans for 2021 compiled by the education department showed earlier this year that full-rate paying loans have doubled or tripled at some universities this year.
At the University of Adelaide, total assistance expense loans are expected to increase from $ 11.4 million to $ 21.9 million, Central Queensland University is expected to increase from $ 10.46 million to $ 20, $ 41 million and Charles Darwin University will increase by about 193%, from $ 470.00 to $ 1.38 million.
Monash University Fee Assistance Loans are expected to increase 32%, from $ 78.7 million in 2020 to $ 104.2 million, or nearly $ 30 million.