Charles Darwin University Vice Chancellor Simon Maddocks has welcomed the Federal Government’s $18 billion university funding guarantee with open arms as global travel restrictions take a toll on international and domestic student enrollments.
After the university recorded a $9 million deficit in 2019, Mr Maddocks said further support may be needed for semester two.
“But, of course, this is a whole new set of challenges and given the global impact of travel restrictions its most unlikely we are going to see any new international students arrive the second semester.”
Mr Maddocks said COVID-19 had a relatively small impact on the first semester.
“It was really Chinese students that weren’t able to make it earlier in the year and we have a relatively small number of Chinese students compared to some other universities (around 10 per cent),” he said.
“Now that restrictions are global, our ability to get any students from any countries from overseas is obviously challenging so we’re continuing to do work on a range of measures.”
Mr Maddocks suggested delaying the start of second semester for international arrivals until late October or possibly running a semester across the new year window.
“We still have students lined up for first semester next year but if we don’t get any global travel restored by the end of this year then we’re obviously going to have to make a range of adjustments,” he said.
“But, certainly we’re not going to get a normal start to second semester in July so we have to be ready for that.”
NT Education Minister Selena Uibo also welcomed the funding commitment.
“It’s great to see the Australian Government working to support the up-skilling of Territorians to maximise their job opportunities on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as providing funding certainty to our tertiary education providers,” she said.
“More people in training is a win for the Territory and it will be important to see what is offered to help our current and future workforce.”
Despite the blow of COVID-19, plans are still moving forward to construct a new CDU city campus.
The $430 million campus, which is expected to attract 10,000 international students to Darwin in five years, is pushing ahead.
“I think we continue to work on the city deal – that’s a three plus year bill and I think we would all hope in three to four years, we would have well and truly got over coronavirus and the world is something a bit more normal,” Mr Maddocks said.
“I think by end of April we will have a greater understanding of where we sit for first semester but most of our engagement has been really strong and, in fact, our applications by overseas students for second semester are as strong as they’ve ever been.
“The appetite and the interest is there, the question will be, can the students get here.”
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