Australia is preparing for the return of thousands of Chinese students as ties improve

Australia is preparing for the return of thousands of Chinese students as ties improve
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By Stella Qiu and Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia is bracing for the arrival of thousands of Chinese students, its education minister said on Monday, days after China’s education ministry warned that online education would no longer be recognized for students registered overseas.

Australia’s education sector, which generated export earnings of A$39 billion (US$27.66 billion) before the pandemic, has strong ties to China with about 150,000 of its citizens studying at Australian universities. Tens of thousands remain at sea after pandemic restrictions and strained diplomatic relations have forced many to return home.

But with three weeks to go before Australian universities start, China’s Ministry of Education’s China Service Center for Scientific Exchange (CSCSE) said on Saturday it would not recognize overseas degrees obtained through online learning and urged students to return to overseas campuses. possible

“At present, the borders of the main destinations for international education have been reopened, and foreign (foreign) colleges and universities have fully resumed offline teaching,” the information said.

In December, China lifted nearly all of its COVID restrictions, prompting a surge in COVID cases and deaths as Beijing focused on rescuing its faltering economy.

The normalization of educational ties comes weeks after Chinese officials eased a ban on Australian coal imports as both countries seek to improve diplomatic relations after more than two years of Chinese trade sanctions that froze trade in barley, coal, wine and other goods and services.

Education Minister Jason Clare welcomed the move on Monday and said he would work with his home office counterpart to resolve any short-term logistical issues for universities.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, Australia’s international education advocacy body, said there were currently around 40,000 Chinese students still overseas.

“We expect a lot of Chinese students to be in a rush when talking about getting a flight to Australia. However, we expect there will be a number of postponement requests where students will not be able to get back in time,” Honeywood said.

The University of Sydney expects the “vast majority” of students to be on campus when classes start in late February. It plans to stop distance learning on campus at the end of this year.

This step of the Ministry of Education of China was met with the anger of Chinese students.

“Only 15 days until school starts – I have no visa, no flight, no place to live. You want us all to sleep on the street with such short notice?” “Weibo” made a statement on the social media platform.

($1 = 1.4100 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Stella Qiu and Lewis Jackson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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