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Media Release

AIBC Webinar: COVID-19 and International Education – Impact, Challenges and Future Outlook

On Thursday 24 September the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) held a webinar on the topic of COVID-19 and International Education, Impact, Challenges and Future Outlook.

Over the past months the onset of COVID-19 and its unprecedented effect on our lives and plans, the Education sector has been faced with significant challenges. The International Education sector is a flagship sector in the Australia-India relationship and one of particular significance for the state of Victoria.

AIBC’s keynote speaker was The Hon Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister for Education, followed by an illustrious panel of speakers representing Victorian Universities and the Education sector more broadly with panellists representing Universities Australia, Austrade, The University of Melbourne, Deakin, La Trobe, and RMIT. The Webinar was opened by Mr Vinod Mirchandani, AIBC’s Director based in Mumbai, India, and was Moderated by the AIBC National Chair for Education and Skills Development, Dr Partha Mukherjee.

The discussion aimed to address the importance of International Students from India, how the government is supporting international students facing pandemic-related challenges, and strategies the government and universities are putting in place to ensure the ongoing development of this sector.

The webinar attracted more than 375 registrations and was live streamed and watched by another 3500 via Facebook. A recording of the discussion can be found here:


Keynote speaker The Hon. Dan Tehan, Minister of Education, shared his vision around the relationship between the 2 countries, his commitment to the relationship and new opportunities he is pursuing in this bilateral space. He spoke about leveraging the New Colombo plan and supporting  PhD students for research contributions.  

Dr Partha Mukherjee introduced the panel discussion by stating that post-COVID the world will never be the same again. The education sector and the design, delivery, administration and the role of partners, stakeholders and the eco-system more broadly will progress and adapt to the most suitable next level of innovation and contextualisation. Leaders are already thinking, innovating and implementing their new plans. 

Ms Catriona Jackson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia and the voice of Australia’s Universities, spoke about how welcome and supportive Australian Universities are towards international students and that that will continue. Australia is supportive when compared to UK, USA and other countries. Many Australian universities provided students with financial hardship support in a timely manner.

Mr Stuart Rees, Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner for South Asia at Austrade, spoke about students’ experience in Australia, why Indian students like to study in Australia. He outlined the impact of COVID-19 on student motivation and mobility, and what Austrade is doing to provide resources aiming to enhance the experience of international students in Australia.

Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International at the University of Melbourne, spoke about how the University of Melbourne is adapting its India Strategy in view of COVID-19 challenges, and in particular about the University’s partner universities in India, virtual seminars, research, competitions and new opportunities that these partnerships are opening up.

Ms Ravneet Pawha, Deputy Vice President Global and CEO South Asia at Deakin University, spoke about the Impact of the pandemic on International Education and the roadmap to recovery. More specifically she referred to India’s New Education Policy and the new opportunities it presents, including potential faculty exchanges and blended degrees.

Mr Chaminda Ranasinghe, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Marketing, Digital and Student Recruitment at RMIT University, shared some facts on how RMIT is developing future ready graduates and the implications of required skills post-COVID.  More specifically, he spoke about how RMIT is partnering with industry to introduce innovative channels and delivery models for addressing the skills gap for students, both in Australia and in India.

Professor Richard Speed, Deputy Vice Chancellor (International) at La Trobe University, spoke about COVID-related lost realities including the end of full time study on campus, work in industries while in lock-down, and less opportunity to travel to experience Australia while studying. He outlined how La Trobe University is forging innovative solutions to help Indian students manage the risks and uncertainties that have emerged from COVID and the support being provided to international students.

A robust Q&A followed. Subsequently Dr Partha Mukherjee closed the discussion by summarising that there are many challenges but also positive changes that have been triggered by COVID-19 which will transform the education sector, and that the AIBC is committed to organising further similar webinars aiming to share the best practices to not only meet challenges but to remain in the forefront of innovation and change in the Education sector.

Ravneet Pawha, President of AIBC Victoria, provided the final vote of thanks and officially closed the webinar.

The Victorian Management Committee was instrumental in the successful delivery of this webinar.

For further information about AIBC, please visit:

– Ends –


Jim Varghese AM
AIBC National Chair

Dr Partha Mukherjee
AIBC Chair, Education & Skills Development Chapter

Ms Ravneet Pawha
President – AIBC Victoria