CANBERRA, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The number of international students enrolling at Australian universities has nearly halved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to data released by the government on Thursday the number of international students enrolled at Australian universities has fallen by 43,000 in the last 12 months.
As of February, 30,768 international students had started new courses, down 36.5 percent from 48,429 of the same time in 2020 and a 46.9-percent drop from 57,913 new enrolments as of February 2019.
There were 12,454 new enrolments from China, down 21.9 percent from 2020 and 46.3 percent from 23,174 prior to the pandemic in 2019.
Australia's universities have repeatedly warned that with the country's international borders set to remain closed for most of 2021 they risk losing out on international students to universities in Britain and Canada.
International students are able to enrol in Australian universities and study online until they can enter the country but a poll published by student recruitment agency IDP Education late in April found only 7 percent of students planning to study in Australia were willing to do so purely online.
The report was released days after Alan Tudge, the minister for education, said the Australian government would take a "very cautious" approach to allowing international students back into the country en masse.
"We just received the letter last night, and obviously we'll carefully look at it, get the advice," he said in response to Victoria submitting a plan to fly students into the state from May 24.
"But I want to say that with COVID ravaging throughout the world at the moment, we need to be very cautious about approving any new quarantine plans for anyone other than returning Australians." Enditem