Education Agent Bulletin - Executive Director's Update
Despite the challenges of 2020, Victoria remains the destination of choice for international school students in Australia, with over 7,000 students enrolled in our schools. We want to thank our many accredited education agents for your trust in us and for your ongoing support over the course of this year in providing guidance to students and their families.
International students make an enormous contribution to our schools and communities and our broader economy, adding to our State's thriving multiculturalism and strengthening the language and intercultural capabilities of our students and teachers. I had the pleasure this year of hosting the annual Victorian Global Learning Awards, where we highlighted the achievements of so many of our international students who have excelled in academia, the arts and volunteering. We were also able to celebrate our amazing homestay families who, in the face of great uncertainty, have cared for their international students like their own children and kept them safe and supported.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Victoria's International Student Program, affecting both current students and the pipeline of future students likely to study in Victorian schools in 2021. We are confident that the way we have managed to control the pandemic in Australia, and the quality of our education system, will ensure that international students continue to choose Victoria as the place they want to live, study and work.
We know that as a result of COVID-19-related international travel restrictions, many of our enrolled international school students remain offshore and unable to travel to Australia. With international flights having now resumed into Victoria, we hope to secure the return of these students as soon as it is feasible to do so.
We have been inspired by the resilience of our international students, and the flexibility of our teachers as they pivoted to online learning, ensuring that all of our students, both overseas in their home countries and here in Victoria, continued to receive a great education. Students who remain offshore will be able to continue to study remotely in the first half of 2021, where their host school and their family decide that it is in their best interests for them to take up that option.
The Victorian Department of Education and Training also introduced a range of additional supports for international students and the schools that host them, to ensure students were well supported and had a positive experience in Victoria, including counselling and welfare services and tuition fee relief.
Every school with an international student has a least one nominated International Student Coordinator. These dedicated staff members work with principals and classroom teachers to provide for the needs of international students, including outside of normal school hours. In addition, the Department is in regular contact with Consular officials of those countries from which our international students come.
We will be rolling out a range of programs and activities for the thousands of international school students who will remain in Victoria over Summer, to keep them safe and engaged. For many, it will be a chance to have a rest and explore Victoria's beaches, cafes, galleries and many natural wonders and experience the warm hospitality of the Victorian people.
Once again thank you to all of our valued education agents for your ongoing collaboration and we look forward to continuing our partnership with you in 2021.
Joel Backwell, International Education Division