Webinar #4: How the international education sector moves through COVID-19

The fourth webinar in our weekly series brought together two experts and passionate advocates in the international student sector;  The Hon Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), and Gary Lee, International Education Project Coordinator at the City of Melbourne.

For the international education sector, the past few weeks have been uncertain and difficult, as every aspect is impacted in increasingly challenging ways. Hosted by James Martin from Insider Guides, the webinar provided an opportunity to look forward with positive optimism and ask, where to from here?

Starting the discussion with where the sector has come; from late last year with the devastating bushfires impacting many, to the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic with travel bans implemented, to now with the entire sector impacted, the discussion explored what issues we are seeing and also what support services are already in place. 

Phil is the Chair of the Global Reputation Taskforce comprising senior representatives from sector bodies and all states and territories. Gary is also a member of the Taskforce, established in response to the bushfire crisis, and now pivoted towards Australia’s response to COVID-19. He provided useful insight into the workings of this Taskforce and the possible impacts of the pandemic on the sector, an impact we may see for some time to come.

Melbourne City Council has become the first government at any level in Australia to pledge financial support for international students amid fears many are falling through the cracks. Gary outlined the Council’s focus on student wellbeing and additional online resources provided to support students with finding work. Phil added that all areas of the sector needed to be considered as they all provided opportunities for students and were feeling the impact on their student communities.

It might be a challenge to consider where to next, but Phil and Gary were able to provide meaningful insight into what is happening currently at various levels from Government to resilient student communities. Concluding the webinar, panellists reiterated the need for the sector to work together to support students and take a coordinated approach to the common issues.

The following topics were covered:

  • How is the sector impacted by and immediately responding to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • What is the role of the Global Reputation Taskforce?
  • Did Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments about international students impact Australia’s global reputation as an education provider?
  • What is the City of Melbourne doing to support their international student population?
  • What role is IEAA playing in advocating for international students?
  • How might Australia’s reputation as a study destination recover?
  • What does semester II and beyond look like for providers?
  • #practicaloptimism