Canberra [Australia], May 19 (ANI): Amid worsening relations between Beijing and Canberra, a survey has found that while students from China were still interested in studying in Australia, some agents were insisting that students apply to another country.
According to The Australian Financial Review (AFR), the report follows anecdotal evidence in February that agents outside the major cities had been instructed by the government to direct students away from Australia.
The survey of 900 agents in 73 countries was conducted in March by Navitas, a global education provider.
Jonathan Chew, head of strategic insights and analytics at Navitas, said that if the Chinese market, which is worth USD 10 billion to the Australian economy, continued to divert to other countries, it would be impossible to make up the lost revenue from countries in south-east Asia and Europe.
"Only 20 per cent of agents from China have confidence that students will be able to travel to Australia [in the first half of 2022]," he said.
The report found that COVID-19 was having a profound impact on students' decision making with students hedging their bets on which country they would study in and whether they would enrol online before being able to embark overseas, reported AFR.
Meanwhile, Dirk Mulder, an international education consultant, said the Chinese government might go even harder on discouraging study with Australian universities.
"Before the pandemic, online degrees were not recognised in China. If Beijing were to halt online degree recognition and the borders remained closed, then we are up a creek without a paddle," he said.
Last month, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the BRI deal has been canceled under the Commonwealth's new foreign veto laws. The cancellation could also mean an end to further Sino-Australian cooperation in the fields of industrial production, biotechnology and agriculture.
Later, China had decided to suspend all its activities under the Strategic Economic Dialogue with Australia, a move that is likely to exacerbate the tense diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Sino-Australian relations have been in a downward spiral since April last year when Canberra infuriated Beijing by proposing an independent international inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canberra has been locked in an ongoing trade war with Beijing for several months as China has slapped sanctions on various Australian products. (ANI)