Student Voices: International students’ experiences during COVID-19

The second iteration of the landmark trans-Tasman research study aims to better understand the experiences of international students in Australia and New Zealand during COVID-19.

Key findings

  • The most significant challenges faced by international students in Australia and New Zealand relate to their disconnection from their families back home, in particular concerns about family wellbeing, separation from family and not knowing when they can go home.
  • These patterns were similar for Australia and New Zealand, albeit with a slightly higher level of concern being expressed by international students in Australia.
  • Two thirds of international students who had been working in Australia prior to COVID lost all their work, compared with only 17% of local students whose employment was subsidised by the JobKeeper program. Dissimilarly, international students' loss of employment was not so dire in New Zealand.
  • More than a quarter (28%) of international students in Australia and 15% in New Zealand reported having to change their accommodation as a result of the pandemic, most commonly due to financial pressures and the need to move to more affordable accommodation.

The report acknowledges the extreme challenges COVID-19 presented to the international student cohort and aims to address whether the countries' responses during the crisis will have a lasting impression. What can be learnt is that in a post-pandemic world, there are opportunities for education providers and government agencies to build upon and strengthen the networks of support that have been forged.

This report was produced as part of the Student Voices research initiative in partnership with Education New Zealand.

Suggested Citation

Lawrence, R. & Ziguras, C. 2021, Student Voices: International students’ experiences during COVID-19, research report, International Education Association of Australia,

Published: October 2021