Expert panelists included Assoc. Prof. Helen Forbes-Mewett (Research Leader of Identity and Belonging at the Monash University Migration and Inclusion Centre), Wesa Chau (CEO of Cultural Intelligence and founder of Resilience Against Racism) and Belle Lim (National President at the Council of International Students Australia Inc). The event was moderated by Journalist and Education Reporter from the Herald Sun, Suzan Delibasic
Belle Lim highlighted the “significant cultural contributions” by International students and stressed they are not regularly talked about nor appreciated enough, while economic benefits are often misperceived as only benefiting universities or the education sector. Lim also said the pandemic has been a wake-up call to re-assess the international education sector and decide on what it currently brings to what other benefits could be realised in this two way transaction. Wesa Chau concurred stating “We need to see students as being much more than just an economic contribution” .
Assoc. Prof. Helen Forbes-Mewett was optimistic that while students have already gone to other countries like the UK and Canada, students can see a “bigger picture” and see an opportunity to pursue education here in Australia. She stated “Where we are geographically placed, we are a good place to be, we are generally a safe place….. I think all of that is weighed up against other options, I think at the moment some student may be thinking they will go somewhere else, but as soon as we make it possible to bring those students back, I think they will come back”. Whilst there was a healthy dose of optimism to attract students back to Australia all agreed it was an opportunity to reset our expectations, review the value proposition and discern on what else we could offer them apart from education to make them feel a part of the broader society.