State Development Minister and Champion for International Education Kate Jones has today approved a $1.5 million rescue package to save struggling education businesses from collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial assistance lifeline announced by the Premier will deliver grants to education providers (previously reliant on international students) to redesign their businesses and target the domestic market.
“Throughout the state, many of these specialised local businesses are stressed and struggling to keep their doors open,” Ms Jones said.
“We want to help these operators make it through the pandemic and ensure that their workers have jobs post-COVID-19.
“This fund will help to transform businesses and safeguard jobs.
“The Government’s rescue package would help almost 150 private vocational training and education providers and English language colleges right across Queensland.”
These Vocational Education and Training (VET) and English Language Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) providers will be able to bid for funds to offer digital classrooms, upskill their employees, diversify to new markets and more.
Under the plan, successful and innovative providers can apply for grants of up to $40,000 to adapt their operations for post-COVID-19.
Ms Jones said the relief package would help to transform these businesses and safeguard jobs.
“International education pumps billions of dollars into our economy and supports more than 30,000 jobs throughout the state,” she said.
“With international borders closed, thousands of local businesses are struggling more than ever before. Helping these operators to transition to cater to the domestic market is vital in the short term until international students can return to Queensland.
“We’re supporting these businesses to keep their doors open and keep employing their workers.
“The Morrison LNP Government have been missing in action for the international education sector.
“With international borders closed, this industry is struggling. Helping these operators to transition to cater to the domestic market is vital in the short term until international students can return to Queensland.”
International education sector consultants, Nous, estimated Queensland’s ELICOS sector has lost $4 million per week throughout the pandemic without international students.
According to data from the Commonwealth Department of Education, VET made up 29 per cent of all international student enrolments (43,001) in Queensland in 2019, while ELICOS accounted for 22 per cent (31,836).
Ms Jones said the ELICOS sector was likely to be much larger.
“ELICOS providers are aligned to the wider tourism industry with some international travellers deciding to undertake a short English language course while holidaying in destinations like Cairns and the Gold Coast,” she said.
Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman said this support package will be the lifeline needed for private training providers impacted by the downturn during the pandemic.
“We have seen the devastating impact of COVID-19 for many of our small businesses, including our training providers,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This is a fantastic program which will support our training and education providers to work smarter and adapt their business so they can continue to grow post COVID.”
The sector program follows on from the Queensland Government announcing a $150m loans facility for state-based universities affected by the downturn in international students.