Two years after the COVID shutdown, international schoolchildren are flying back to Victoria

The “education state” still has more international high school students than the rest of Australia, although the number has dived under COVID from almost 9000 at the end of 2019 to just over 4800 last year.

Victorian government schools accredited to teach international students – more than 100 secondary and 50 elementary schools – were forced to suspend new admissions last year as the state battled coronavirus outbreaks.

There are now about 3,300 international students enrolled in public schools. Tuition fees for international students in state schools this year range from $ 12,628 for primary students to $ 18,819 for years 11 and 12.

Home stay fees range from $ 200 to $ 370 per week, according to government documents. Students can also study online in terms 1 and 2 before flying to Australia later this year.

Phil Honeywood, of the International Education Association of Australia, said newcomers were crucial and that schools and governments “really need to make sure we tick all the boxes to address the challenges they will face.

“This will include finding adequate home families, overcoming some vaccine protocols [for under-18s], and ensure that they do not start the school year too late due to the lack of commercial aircraft. “

But Tracey O’Halloran, who runs the Australian Education Assessment Services – which helps schools market themselves abroad and conducts tests on international students – is upset about a rapid recovery.

“The school sector will take time to recover, possibly four to five years,” she said.

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‚ÄúParents of school-age students will take the time to feel safe again to send the child abroad while there is still uncertainty. But we hope it will happen much sooner. “

Through COVID, dozens of the state’s most expensive private schools have pleaded for international students to return.

Among them is Oakleigh Grammar, which has 20 international students this year, down from 50 before the pandemic.

Principal Mark Robertson said 10 students had stayed in Australia during the whole pandemic, five had moved from other schools that had closed their international student programs, and the remaining five had flown in over the summer, mostly from Cambodia.

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COVID has also stretched Victoria’s boarding schools, which have become more and more dependent on international students compared to regional and rural Australians.

Many have kept their doors open over the past two years to care for students who were unable to return to their home countries.

Katherine Tong, boarding captain at Burwood Girls’ School PLC, has not seen her family in China for 842 days (as of Thursday). She said the guest house had become a home away from home.

“Even though I can not see my real family, my friends and the whole staff are really sweet, so I feel like I have found another home in Australia,” the 17-year-old said.

Katherine plans to visit her family when she graduates, and then go to university in Australia.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Education Department said: “During the pandemic we continue to support current and potential international students, we provide extra welfare and learning support to both onshore and offshore students, as well as financial support to international students facing difficulties . “

Opposition education spokesman David Hodgett said it was “amazing” to have international students back in Victoria.

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