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Return of overseas students offers nation a double boost

The mantra from political leaders has long been that you must first fix the health crisis before repairing the economic crisis. With Victoria recording 23 consecutive days without a new positive infection or death on Sunday, and South Australia hopeful that its recent outbreak is far more limited than initially thought, across Australia the health crisis would appear well contained.

The financial repair work has certainly begun in earnest. Last week, the NSW government was the latest to open its wallet, announcing $22 billion in tax cuts, infrastructure spending and vouchers to get people out and spending. Victoria will deliver its budget on Tuesday, but has already announced billions of dollars in extra spending on social housing, mental health and infrastructure.

Australian universities' reliance on international students has been exposed by the pandemic.

Australian universities’ reliance on international students has been exposed by the pandemic.

One sector that has already lost thousands of jobs, and is facing a bleak 2021, is Australia’s universities. A recent report by education think tank Mitchell Institute calculated there are more than 200,000 fewer international students in Australia because of the pandemic, and that figure could rise by another 100,000 by the middle of next year.

And while this is causing the university sector a huge headache, the Mitchell report also points out that almost 60 per cent of the $37.5 billion international students would usually spend in Australia goes towards goods and services in the wider economy.

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