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Austrade regional market update on the impact of COVID-19 (as at 21 April 2020)

21 Apr 2020

Austrade will provide weekly regional updates on the progression and impact of COVID-19 around the world, to support the international education sector as the situation continues to evolve. These reports are compiled using the latest on-the-ground information and advice. The following updates include markets and regions for:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • Middle East and Africa
  • North Asia
  • Latin America
  • South Asia

North America

The US and Canada now have more than 672,000 and 31,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases respectively.


  • Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that students planning to study in Canada in May/June can begin their programs online from their home country in preparation before coming to Canada.
  • Canada predicts a $6 billion drop in international student tuition revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A survey by the British higher education consultancy, Quacquarelli Symonds, said that 54 per cent of international students intending to study in Canada will defer admission by a year. Further, 15 per cent of prospective international students have changed their intentions and are no longer planning to come to Canada.

United States

  • 27 states and 3 US territories have ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of the academic year.
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that stranded foreign students in the US facing economic hardship can apply for off-campus work authorisation.
  • US Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has outlined that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies purchased with federal funds to healthcare providers, hospitals and public health agencies during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, colleges have been providing empty dorm rooms to house first responders and healthcare workers.
  • New York City Department of Education has reported that at least 50 employees have died in recent weeks due to suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
  • A survey by Fishbowl, a community app for education professionals, found 35 per cent of respondents reported that online class attendance was as low as 0 to 25 per cent in the wake of school closures, and 55 per cent saying less than half of their students were attending.
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange is set to cut more than 600 jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) in the US Department of Education is asking educators and families to share their questions about effective distance education tools. Their goal is to understand the specific challenges that teachers, students and parents have faced during the rapid transition to online learning.
  • The College Board announced the 2020 Advanced Placement exams will go on, although with some changes, despite COVID-19 school closures. Exams can be taken at home or at school, if they are open, and will take place at the same time worldwide 11-22 May.
  • Non-profit assessment provider NWEA predicts that due to school closures, some students could be as much as a year behind in math when they start school in the fall.
  • A study of the impact of the last recession on higher education anticipates post-COVID there could be an increase in the number of undergraduate students driven by older adults; decreases in funding and subsequent budget cuts; and increase in student borrowing.
  • Boston-based EdTech startup Unruly Studios announced they are launching a pair of initiatives to support educators coping with the ongoing coronavirus crisis:
    1. The Unruly COVID-19 Educator Grant  program that provides $250,000 worth of Unruly Studios active STEM learning product, Splats, to 500 educators. It is open to any elementary and middle school educators in the US and Canada.
    2. Opening their online learning platform for free to all educators.
  • Connected Learning Summit, scheduled to be held in July at MIT, has been cancelled and will not go virtual.


  • Several countries are seeing a slowing in the number of new cases of COVID-19.
  • While some countries have extended their lockdowns, all are actively planning their exit strategies and many have already started to ease a limited number of restrictions.
  • The European Union’s (EU) external borders currently remain closed to all non-EU nationals until at least 15 May.
  • Many countries have started planning for school and university re-openings. Plans can vary significantly between countries, further details are provided below.


  • France’s President has advised the country will gradually start easing lockdown restrictions from 11 May. 
  • Kindergartens, primary schools and high schools are scheduled to start reopening from this date, with the implementation of careful health security measures such as appropriate distancing.
  • Higher education students are likely to continue studying their courses remotely until the end of the academic year in summer.

Nordic Nations

  • Denmark re-opened primary schools on 15 April, while Norway will open primary schools on 27 April. Other levels of study continue to operate via distance learning. 
  • In Finland early schooling remains open (years 1-3), while schools and universities continue to operate via online learning.
  • In Sweden school classes for students up to year 10 are continuing as normal, while senior secondary schools and universities remain closed with students undertaking distance learning.


  • The German Government announced on 15 April that social distancing restrictions will be extended until 3 May. 
  • The Federal and state governments also agreed that schooling in Germany will start to resume gradually from 4 May, with appropriate safety measures. 
  • Priority will be given to those students due to take exams, including graduating secondary school classes, as well as upper primary school classes.
  • Universities recommenced the semester digitally from 20 April. 
  • Examinations and laboratory courses may start on campus again in the weeks following. 


  • The Spanish Education Ministry reached an agreement with regional governments on 15 April to maintain the usual, full duration of the school year through until June for all students in early education, primary, secondary and the first year of pre-university studies.
  • Education officials will allow teachers to award varying scores depending on students’ performance during the first two terms.
  • The current third term will be used for making up missed studies, review and reinforcement. 
  • While some students may still fail specific subjects and will need to re-sit their exams in the autumn, it has been confirmed that no student will be held back a year.
  • Voluntary supplementary tuition activities will be organised during the summer period.
  • National university entrance exams have been rescheduled to take place between 22 June and 10 July, subject to how the coronavirus crisis evolves.

Czech Republic

  • The Czech Government has confirmed the following schedule for gradually reopening schools as part of easing the current restrictions:
    • From 20 April students in their final year of university should be able to access libraries in small groups and consult their teachers at their faculties; exams can also take place (mainly final and state exams).
    • From 11 May secondary school students nearing graduation should be able to interact directly with teachers in order to prepare for exams.
    • Entrance exams to secondary schools and universities, as well as baccalaureate exams, should take place in early June.
    • From 25 May elementary schools (6 to 10 year old only) will reopen. However, the number of students could be limited to 15 per class. 
    • Children aged 11 to 15 will probably not re-enter schools before the end of the academic year (on 30 June) and will continue online learning.
    • School-leaving exams may not be taken before 1 June. Entrance examinations for secondary schools will take place during June 2020.


  • Further to the decision on 16 April to extend the UK’s lockdown for a further 3 weeks, the government is considering allowing a gradual reopening of schools outside of coronavirus hotspots like London and Birmingham next month.
  • According to a recent Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) survey, many UK universities are expecting a drop of between 80 per cent and 100 per cent in international student numbers in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 
  • All university respondents indicated they will suffer losses. HEPI indicated that income for some universities will decline by more than £100m.
  • In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the Department for International Trade (DIT) has indicated they are looking at setting up a central portal to house learning resources or products that the UK higher education sector is currently making available for free.
  • As an interim step, DIT advised that this week they will circulate a list of free or discounted online courses and resources from the education sector to British embassies around the world.


  • Schools and universities remain closed and are undertaking online learning until further notice.
  • Year 8 exams, scheduled for late April, and year 12 exams scheduled for early May, have been postponed, with the revised date yet to be advised.
  • The National Agency for Academic Mobilities (NAWA) has stopped applications for this year’s mobility grants due to travel restrictions.
  • Many programs have been postponed and applications are being collected for 2021.
  • According to local education agents, the majority of Polish students returned home. Some who are still in Australia are experiencing serious difficulties with paying their bills as most have lost their jobs.


  • The Minister for Education has advised schools are likely to maintain distance learning at least until the start of the new academic year in early September. 
  • It has been confirmed that all students will be permitted to pass this year, however they will be awarded marks based on their actual performance. 
  • Students who receive poor marks can undertake additional tuition to reach the appropriate grades. 
  • A Special Commission has been established to determine the best way forward for the new academic year, with a view to restructuring the approach to provide the best possible outcomes with the available resources while maintaining the health and security of students.
  • While universities are also likely to remain closed with online study continuing for the remainder of this academic year, each university has been asked to submit a plan for reopening, including appropriate blended learning and health security measures. 
  • There has been some discussion regarding the possibility to undertake some exams in person.
  • The financial publication, Il Sole 24 Ore, has published a list of the free university courses available online at Italian universities.


  • While Russia’s non-working period is in place to 30 April, the Minister of Science and Higher Education recently commented that one of the consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection pandemic will be a change in the entire higher education system.
  • This will include the use of the national online learning platform, online enrolment in universities, face recognition technology, and fundamentally new approaches to traditional teacher training.
  • The Ministry of Science and Higher Education is developing a university-based student employment program with financial support mechanisms to scale it.
  • Pilot projects have been launched at the Far Eastern Federal University, Tomsk State University and the Baltic Federal University.
  • Large industrial partners across regions support the program and ready to offer employment opportunities to students. Currently pilot projects are financed by the universities.

Middle East and Africa

Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education announced on 16 April that it will be advancing all students to the next grade and will take the first semester’s results as the results for the second semester. Distance learning will continue for K-2, grade 3-6, middle school and high school. 
  • For grade 12 students, they will be considered to have passed all their courses in the semester without negatively affecting their academic average.
  • There will be evaluations at the beginning of the next calendar year for students who wish to improve their results. 


  • Some low-risk businesses re-opened in Tehran on 18 April. On 19 April, the Education Minister advised that schools will remain closed until further notice.
  • According to an announcement by the Health Ministry, schools must stay closed.
  • During the month of Ordibehesht (20 Apr – 20 May), schools must conduct lessons online, and final exams will be taken during the first three weeks of Khordad (21 May – 12 June).
  • Education bodies do not expect schools to reopen for this school academic year which ends late June.
  • National Organisation of Educational Testing has postponed IELTS tests for the second time, to 20 May 2020.


  • The Kenyan Minister for Education indicated that there is no substantial reason to postpone national examinations which commence in September to November, as students have lost only 3 weeks of the first term which began in January.
  • Schools were closed from 15 March.  
  • In normal circumstances, the second term was to begin on 9 May 2020.
  • Private international schools classes are still being held online. The IGCSE final exams in May/June were cancelled but schools have been given a work around to predict final grades from the assignments, mock exams and any assessment that students have taken.
  • The predicted grades will be used to transition students to the next level.
  • In the event that a student is not satisfied with the predicted grade they can sit final exams in Oct/Nov 2020.
  • UK, Canadian and US universities have indicated that they will continue to issue offer letters based on the predicted grades. It is unclear if they will use the same for Confirmation of Enrolment.
  • Student counsellors have advised that there has been continued engagement from UK and US universities with consistent updates and any changes in the admission calendars.
  • Student Counsellors remain keen to engage with Australian universities and are on the lookout for virtual education fairs — a very new concept in this market.


  • All schools in Nigeria remain closed until further notice.
  • International education fairs have been postponed, instead virtual sessions are being held by universities and agents with students
  • Nigeria’s economy will be significantly impacted by the pandemic.
  • With reductions in oil prices, there are concerns the pandemic will considerably affect the Nigerian education sector and Nigerians who wish to study overseas from both a practical perspective (inability to travel/ apply for visa) and a financial perspective (unemployment expected to increase, fall of the naira/inflation etc).
  • Some international universities are holding regular webinar sessions with their agents in the markets. 
  • Education agents have provided positive feedback on information resources shared on StudyinAustralia.gov.au and the engagement by Australian universities on COVID-19 updates.


  • The 21 day lockdown and restrictions on movements in Accra the capital of Ghana and other parts of the country has been lifted from Monday 20 April, however all schools through to tertiary remain closed until further notice.
  • Ghana's borders, both land and the airport, remain closed for a further two weeks (until end of April).
  • Bans remain on all public gatherings, including religious meetings, gatherings, funerals, festivals, parties, and any conference of more than 25 people.
  • International education enquires/interest has not reduced, agents are still engaging students, parents are still planning for post COVID-19 across all countries — UK, US, Australia and Canada
  • Some UK schools are promoting distance learning courses for regular students due to COVID-19, students will transfer to face to face delivery mode post COVID-19.
  • International universities from US, UK and Australian universities are holding regular virtual updates with some education agents who find this innovative.
  • The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) scheduled for May/June has been postponed.
  • The Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service introduced a dedicated 24-hours free-to-air distance learning TV channel/station for students in senior high schools.

North Asia


  • In a further sign of the reopening of China’s education system, Hubei province has now confirmed its Gaokao (college entrance examination) dates from 7 to 8 July.
  • These dates align with that of several other provinces in the country, all of which delayed the Gaokao by one month.  
  • China's Ministry of Education has issued guidelines suspending the resumption of major sports events and mass gatherings on education campuses until further notice, to protect the health and wellbeing of teachers and students.
  • Chinese universities will now admit more doctoral students in 2020 to meet a target of 100,000 such students set by the Ministry of Education.
  • In particular, the country will boost the number of postgraduates in the field of artificial intelligence, to further advance China’s research capabilities in this key area.

Hong Kong

  • University entrance exams — the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examinations (HKDSE) — will proceed this Friday 24 April.
  • Safety measures will be in place in the examination centres with contingency plans for further postponement or cancellation if they are disrupted due to COVID-19. 
  • The Hong Kong Education Bureau has still not made a firm decision regarding the reopening of schools, but options include commencing half-day classes for secondary five and secondary six students first. 


  • There were 10,219 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 161 deaths in Japan (MHLW data, 19 April).
  • Prime Minister Abe expanded a state of emergency (SOE) to cover the whole country on Thursday 16 April. This was previously confined to 7 prefectures. The SOE requests schools, businesses and institutions to either close or restrict or reduce operating/trading hours and practises, including encouraging working from home in an attempt to prevent the further spread of the virus.
  • In response to the nationwide state of emergency, a majority of prefectural governments have indicated they will close their schools until 6 May — the end of Japan’s Gold Week holidays. Only Iwate Prefecture (which has no known infection cases) is planning to keep schools open.
  • According to MEXT survey of universities, about 86% of universities across Japan are postponing or have postponed the start of the new semester, which was due to commence 2nd week of April.
  • The Japanese education industry is at an early stage of transition to digital education or adoption of edtech.
  • According to a 2017 Fuji Keizai Group report, the ICT education market was expected to grow 41.8 per cent over the period 2015 to 2021. This expansion is likely to accelerate due to the forced shift caused by COVID-19.
  • Multiple surveys conducted in the last two weeks in Japan show the majority of elementary to high school students and parents responded positively to the introduction of online education.
  • High numbers (>70 per cent) of survey respondents said using digital tools for education was useful and viewed positively.
  • Parents also appreciated the live video lessons on offer from various institutions.
  • Japanese major telecommunications providers including NTT Docomo, Softbank, KDDI are providing up to 50 GB monthly for free to under 25-year-old student users to assist them in securing a digital communication environment/support online learning as the schools have been shut down.


  • Encouragingly, Korea’s COVID-19 curve appears to be flattening.
  • The Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported less than 30 new infections a week since 9 April, bringing the total number of cases to 10,635.
  • The new school year started with online classes for year 9 and year 12 students from 9 April. Years 4 - 8, 10 and 11 started online classes from 16 April.
  • Years 1-3 are scheduled to commence online classes on 20 April.
  • Universities are offering lectures via online, which have been running well for almost 8 weeks.
  • Austrade will host a webinar on COVID-19 Impact and Responses on International Education to Korean agents on 22 April.


  • The National Contagious Disease Centre of Mongolia reported that in total 31 cases have been confirmed. All cases are imported. 
  • The Government of Mongolia extended closures of all education institutions until 1 September 2020. Online classes for all school and university students will continue until 1 June 2020. 

Latin America


  • As at 17 April, there were 2,669 infected cases reported with 124 deaths.
  • Government confirmed complete shutdown until 27 April 2020.
  • Universities and schools were urged to re-arrange their academic calendars.
  • Federal Ministry of Education is driving a rapid change in the Education system to facilitate a shift towards virtual teaching and learning to offset the current lockdown at schools and universities and avoid paralysis of the academic year.
  • Official initiatives include a recent launch of a digital platform called Keep Educating with relevant material for parents, teachers and students at all levels; a Public-Private Partnership with the country’s largest ICT companies to secure free WiFi access from mobiles and laptops and also with tech-based companies offering training packages on digital upskilling and reskilling.
  • The Ministry is also supporting nursing training across the country to prepare for post-COVID.


  • The country is still in Phase 2 with 6,297 confirmed cases and 486 deceased.
  • The National University (UNAM) announced that the admission examinations for the second semester of 2020 will be suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • After two weeks break (Holy Week and Easter Week), public elementary schools will resume the Learn at Home program, delivered on-line and in open TV.


  • As at 19 April, official figures from the Ministry of Health report 37,437 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil, with 2,388 deaths.
  • Most states have extended the quarantine measures to control the spread of the virus. São Paulo state, which remains the most affected by the pandemic, has extended the quarantine until at least 10 May.
  • The Brazilian President opposed the lockdown measures and has recently clashed with various state governors, including an unsuccessful attempt to block their quarantine orders.
  • On, 16th April, President Bolsonaro fired the Health Minister who backed the lockdown.
  • Two key Brazilian business schools have been ahead, with projects planned since last year to create virtual education environments and completely reformulate the online teaching format they already offered.
  • The Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) opened a virtual laboratory in partnership with Microsoft at the end of March. The solution has already started as an alternative to face-to-face classes and is being piloted to 400 students of the Big Data MBA of data science and to a portion of the master's and doctorate in Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasília.
  • The School of Business and Insurance (ENS) is preparing to launch the ‘room of the future’ in early May. The physical space will house high-resolution screens to receive 40 remote students and up to 30 on-site students.


  • The Ministry of Health has declared 15,628 COVID patients to date. 1,349 people are hospitalised and 400 deaths reported.
  • On 17 April the President announced that all schools should remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Public universities are delivering classes through online and remote platforms.
  • Over the last three weeks, 100,000 teachers have completed a 15-hour course on how to teach and modify their classes for online or virtual platforms. This course is expected to be taken by 200,000 teachers across the country.
  • The Peruvian Network for the Internationalization of Higher Education (15 Universities, public and private) are working with Australian counterparts in order to explore post COVID-19 internationalisation strategies.


  • As of 18 April 2020, 3,621 cases were reported in Colombia, with 166 deaths and 691 patients recovered.
  • President Duque announced how the country's economy will begin to activate after the national quarantine ends.
  • Duque highlighted the importance of a collaborative and intelligent mandatory preventive isolation which would involve resuming some activities in two or three sectors but continuing with measures of social distancing for at least 18 months.
  • Colombian Universities prepare to support coronavirus diagnoses across the country.
  • Despite the fact that the National Institute of Health has the capacity to respond to the large number of diagnoses, there is a shortage of test-kits in the region.
  • Universidad de Los Andes, Nacional, Universidad Del Rosario and departmental laboratories prepare to support the work of the institution.
  • Universidad de La Sabana will manufacture low-cost mechanical ventilators for patients with COVID-19. First devices successfully passed tests carried out in simulation laboratories of the academic institution and in the Institute of Medical Simulation (Insimed).

South Asia

  • South Asian parents and students are closely monitoring Australia’s response to COVID-19, particularly as it relates to students currently located in Australia.
  • Australian Government agencies aim to manage messaging by addressing stakeholder concerns and providing clarifications on behalf of Australian international education.


  • On 10 April, the government extended the closure of all public and private offices until 25 April to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
  • The government announced various stimulus packages worth around Tk 1 lakh crore for social and economic support needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
  • Education Ministry requested to all the schools and universities to provide online classes until further notice.


  • PM Modi announced an extension of lockdown until 3 May. Restrictions may be relaxed post 20 April in areas that have shown a reduction in the spread of the virus.
  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued revised guidelines to allow select activities from 20 April. The total cases of coronavirus in the country have surged past 11,000.
  • With the nationwide lockdown extended, all educational institutes including schools, colleges and coaching centres remain closed for the safety of students and general public.
  • Some of these institutions are recognised as quarantine centres, to be used during emergencies.
  • Many colleges had scheduled their mid-semester breaks to accommodate the lockdown, but after the latest extension was announced, the academic calendar of educational institutes is yet to be rescheduled.
  • The Telangana Government on Sunday announced the postponement of Telangana State (TS) EAMCET and all other common entrance tests for admissions into professional courses scheduled in May.
  • The Telangana State Council for Higher Education (TSCHE) said that all common entrance tests are postponed due to the extension of lockdown by the government. New dates yet to be announced.
  • Andhra Pradesh state also has postponed all Common Entrance Tests (CETs) scheduled for May.
  • Higher education regulators such as All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have directed all technical institutes not to force students to pay fees during the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown.
  • AICTE launched a portal for online education collaborating with edtech companies that offers skilling and certification programs to students free of charge. The portal is called Enhancement in Learning with Improvement in Skills, or ELIS.
  • The Government of India launched an online training platform — iGOT — to equip all front-line workers with training and updates in coping with the pandemic.
  • The iGOT platform delivers curated, role-specific content in the areas like Clinical Management, Infection Prevention through PPE, Infection Control and Prevention, ICU Care and Ventilation Management and few others.
  • Education technology is creating a value system by creating an interdependence between the industry, academia and the job markets. Education institutions are innovating to keep the doors of learning open and ensure there is a human connection in each of the sessions.
  • Edtech platforms are creating solutions like plug and play modules, live sessions, audio learning, interactive sheets, gamifications, augmented reality and virtual reality. Focus is now on content and related outcomes, to aid the virtual classrooms.
  • India is witnessing a robust growth in digital content and solutions, with popularity for products such as e-text books exploding.
  • Using COVID-19 as an opportunity, edtech organisations are now progressing towards a profitable model in India.
  • Facebook has also launched an online resource guide for educational institutes on how to collaborate and continue the learning process using Facebook products in India.

Sri Lanka

  • Within the last 48hrs, no COVID-19 infected patients were reported in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka aims to lift the curfew in non-affected districts of the country, as the situation continues to be more positive with lesser cases.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed they have started to review Sri Lanka’s request for access to a Rapid Credit Facility.
  • The suspension of scheduled flights of Sri Lankan Airlines due to the COVID-19 outbreak has been extended to 30 April.
  • Sri Lanka and its leadership were ranked nine, in the Global Response to Infectious Diseases (GRID) Index, which evaluates how efficient and effective the leadership of the country and the preparedness of its health system were in tackling COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand and the Pacific


  • Currently there are 18 COVID-19 cases in Fiji. Three recoveries and no fatalities recorded yet.
  • The mandatory quarantine period has been extended from 14 to 28 days for incoming travellers and immediate families/contacts of known patients.
  • The ban on social gatherings continues.
  • Lock downs have been lifted, but the 8pm-5am national curfew remains in place.
  • On 20 April PM Bainimarama announced that a 24-hour nationwide curfew may still be delivered.


  • On 17 April the Fiji Ministry of Education announced that schools will be closed until 16 June 2020.
  • Teachers are to report to school where possible from Monday 20 April 2020.
  • Parents are requested to pick up learning resources and materials packs for their children, from their schools, to facilitate teaching materials for home-based educational activities for the students.
  • Parents are encouraged to continue accessing supplementary resources available on the Ministry of Education website, Google shared drive, Facebook and the ongoing school radio programs.
  • Students will be able to access the Walesi free-to-air educational channel from Monday 27 April, 2020.
  • The Education Minister advised all English, vernacular and test subject project work that form the basis of internal assessments has been removed from this academic year due to the movement restrictions.
  • Internal examinations will be conducted for Years 1 to 8, with literacy and numeracy examinations for Years 5 and 7, standard examinations for Years 9 and 11 and external examinations for Year s12 and 13 when classes are back to normal.


  • Fiji National University (FNU) has been working on its digital learning strategy for some time, in the light of rising concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and the effects of social distancing measures, FNU’s online classes for all students started from 21 April.
  • Similar practices are being followed by the University of the South Pacific, until the end of this semester, June 2020.
  • The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Fiji has advised they are hoping to start face-to-face classes from 28 April, subject to government advisory.
  • University of Fiji staff are currently on leave, and are expected to resume work on the 27 April.
  • If they are unable to resume face-to-face classes later this month, classes will commence online.

Papua New Guinea

  • All schools in PNG to resume classes from 27 April 2020.
  • The Education Department is looking at the possibility of providing classes via TV and Radio.
  • On 14 April, the World Bank announced a further commitment of USD$20 million to assist PNGs fight against COVID-19.
  • The World Bank approved an initial emergency US$20 million project for Papua New Guinea to provide rapid support the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • The PNG Government has launched a state of emergency website that people can now apply online for approval for domestic travel.
  • International travel is still banned, except for inbound medical supplies and equipment including PPE.

Association of South East Asian Nations


  • Austrade and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) organised a webinar on 17 April for Indonesian education agents, and representatives of Australian universities.
  • 120 participants attended, and were provided with an update on Australian government policies that aim to support international students as a result of COVID-19.
  • Agents posed a number of questions around visas, post study work rights, views on when things will return to normal, and advice on help or incentives available to international students.


  • The Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a second extension of the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO) until 28 April 2020, having started on 18 March.
  • The Malaysian PM has hinted of a slow and staggered release back to normal business and working practise, if and when the MCO is lifted. The PM has suggested that schools (campus teaching) will remain closed until after Eid (end of May).
  • While A-Levels and traditional exams in May and June have been cancelled, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) announced it will be working with schools in Malaysia to implement an evidence-based assessment to help students obtain the fairest outcome possible.
  • The evidence could be coursework, mock examinations, assignments, and work that has been done remotely by students following the implementation of online learning in some schools.
  • Schools and exam centres are to provide students with predicted grades and ranks on the best evidence available, to be submitted to CAIE for a statistical standardisation process no earlier than 29 May, with results anticipated for release in the middle of August.
  • Local higher education institutions, including Australian offshore campuses, have confirmed acceptance of these results.
  • SPM (From 5) and STPM (pre-uni equivalent) have been postponed to Q1 2021. The impact of postponement (including intake numbers into foreign institutions including Australian universities), will be felt for 2021 intakes and even so far as 2022 intakes.
  • Australian pre-university programs in country with COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place (online delivery, multiple intake dates), will be well placed to take advantage of displaced students looking for pre-university programs.
  • As general confidence to travel abroad will likely lower for the rest of 2020, those with TNE partnerships or structured online/virtual programs particularly for first year will be better placed to meet the continued demand for international education in the coming years as compared to traditional study overseas.
  • Malaysia has announced three stimulus packages worth RM260 billion (USD64.6 billion) to cushion the impact of Covid-19.
  • These stimulus packages have a face value of 18.1 percent of the nation’s GDP and include loan repayment deferments, wage subsidies, cash handouts and free internet for the next few months.
  • Research grants for Post COVID-19 and other training related grants are in the pipeline.


  • Agents are seeking updates regarding available support from the Australian government for students who wish to return home.


  • Education providers have been very accommodating and considerate of students’ needs.
  • Some providers have offered discounts, free accommodation and groceries to students.
  • Domestic students are impressed with the quality and readiness of online learning platforms being offered.
  • Online learning is not well established in the Philippines.
  • Some students have opted to defer, instead of taking online classes because they would rather be on campus.
  • Some students do not want to be delayed and are therefore considering Australian providers.
  • Agents are still promoting this year’s July intake for Australian providers, because of student interest.
  • A main concern of agents in the Philippines, are about visas and the risk of visa refusal despite undertaking online classes.


  • Education agents and transnational education (TNE) providers are now exploring online platforms to organise education events for the July 2020 intake.


  • Education agents are watching which countries relax travel restrictions first, so they can start recommending study opportunities in these destinations. 
  • There is a desire from students and their parents, for a degree of certainty about travel restrictions and being able to start their courses at a set date, so as not to waste time in securing their education futures.
  • Agents have expressed mixed views about the types of health and welfare support programs on offer to international students by different English-speaking countries.
  • The Australian Government was acknowledged for keeping international students and other stakeholders well-informed about COVID-19 developments through a variety of channels, including access for health care services.
  • Agents are reporting very few enquiries about study abroad programs from new prospective students.
  • A number of students, in particular new school graduates, have made the decision to continue their studies in Thailand due to the uncertain international education environment.
  • Due to rescheduling of the Thai school semesters, there will be limited opportunities to deliver Study Tour Programs in Australia in 2020 or 2021.

If you have questions, please contact the offices in market who can direct and assist in your enquiry. You can view Austrade office locations on our website.

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