Webinar #1: What will COVID-19 do to the international education sector?

The first in a series of webinars hosted by Insider Guides over the coming weeks brought together Rebecca Hall, Senior Industry Specialist International Education at Austrade, and Aleksandr Voninski, Partner at Edified, to discuss the international education sector and the impacts of COVID-19.

Hosted by Insider Guides’ James Martin, the webinar was an opportunity to look at current responses to the pandemic by the sector, and where to from there, with an air of ‘practical optimism’. Currently, international students and the sector are in limbo and the future is uncertain.

“Global student mobility has effectively ceased,” Rebecca Hall explains, “and many students are now facing challenging times away from home.”

“We need to look at the response and where to from here,” shares James Martin.

Throughout the webinar, the topics of online learning, student support services, the new government taskforce, border restrictions and compassionate leave, virtual outreach programs and the future of the sector are all discussed.

On the theme of practical optimism in the face of COVID-19 in the international education sector, Aleksandr Voninski summarises:

“Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot and have a race to the bottom with reactionary policies… trying to outdo each other. We need to be careful. We need to support each other and we need to learn from each other.”

Concluding the seminar, the focus was on the importance of providing accurate and timely resources for international students.

“There are so many resources, but so little of them translating into how students want to consume and how they can understand what we want them to know,” says Rebecca Hall.

The resources recommended during the webinar have been made available, with James Martin concluding the proceedings:

“We want to show international students that if you were going to go through this crisis, you’d want to do it in Australia.”

The following topics were covered:

  • How is the sector impacted by and immediately responding to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • Can the international education sector ‘ride out’ this crisis, or will it be in ruins?
  • What is the role of the Australian Government’s ‘taskforce’?
  • The ‘3 Cs’ – Care, Collaboration and Creativity
  • ‘Practical optimism’ – stories from Australia or internationally demonstrating ‘promising practise’
  • The move to online learning and impact on the student experience
  • The movement of working international students to other parts of the economy
  • How to support newly-arrived students
  • Education agents – if everything is moving to online, what role will agents be playing in the future? Are they going to change dramatically?
  • How might the current situation have an impact on better regulating and standardising online education?
  • What is the future of student recruitment?
  • What are the red flags to look out for in the sector?