How bad will it be? Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, international-student revenue for Australian universities had been around 25 per cent across the sector, with many of Australia’s ‘sandstone’ universities relying on international students for at least a third of their income. The loss of much of this revenue for the near to mid-future represents the biggest crisis the sector has faced. The paucity of government support and the federal minister’s real or feigned ignorance of the sector mean that universities will act vigorously to manage their finances. Already some have announced forced redundancies and the likelihood of other ‘drastic measures’; many casual and contract staff are certain to lose work; and ongoing staff face a precarious future, with estimates of between 20,000 and 30,000 job losses. Meanwhile, many international students find themselves stranded with little federal support (the prime minister urged students to ‘go home’, even though he knew that most couldn’t), relying on universities and state governments for financial help and charities for food-they are unable to receive benefits, and the casual jobs that supported their income have vanished.
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