Asia Minute: Coronavirus Takes a Toll on International Students

Jun 22, 2020

One of many questions about the phased re-openings of communities around the world concerns education. It’s not just about the plans for local schools, there are still a lot of issues concerning international students. And that includes in the Asia Pacific.

International students will soon be able to return to their studies in Malaysia. That word came Friday from the country’s Senior Minister for Security.

The students will need to be tested for the coronavirus either before they leave their home country or immediately upon their arrival in Malaysia, and those coming from countries with high numbers of COVID-19 will face a 14-day quarantine.

A 14-day quarantine will also be part of the syllabus for international students heading for Australia. The government there is running a pilot program next month — allowing 350 students to return for studies.

International students are an important funding source for Australian universities. According to a study by the Australian think tank the Mitchell Institute, they brought nearly six billion U.S. dollars in revenue to the institutions in 2018 alone.

The Asia Pacific is also an important source of students for universities in other parts of the world — an arrangement that is complicated by the coronavirus.

A study earlier this month from the British Council found universities in the U.K. will see a drop of more than half a billion U.S. dollars in revenue next year because of a collapse in international students coming from just eight countries.

Some of the biggest source countries for those international students include China, Singapore and Malaysia.