Australia’s Crisis Responses During COVID-19

The Case of International Students


  • Jing Qi RMIT, Australia
  • Cheng Ma Shanghai Art and Design Academy, China



international education, COVID-19, policy, Australia, Chinese, international students.


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global international education sector has been fraught with multiple, intensifying stressors, which have severely affected international students’ lives and study. Host government policies on international education can make a critical difference for this vulnerable population during the pandemic. Australia’s crisis response policies during the pandemic have been closely tracked and vigorously discussed amongst Chinese international students. This study examines how Australia’s crisis responses addressed the needs of international students during the pandemic, and how these policies impacted Chinese international students’ experiences and perceptions of studying in Australia. We collected qualitative data through interviews with Chinese international students, parents and migration agents, virtual ethnography on WeChat, and analysis of Australia’s policy responses. Our thematic analysis highlights participants’ experiences and views of Australia’s crisis responses in the four areas of financing, third-country transit, visas and immigration, and pandemic management. We discuss these findings in relation to the historical context of Australia’s higher education funding reforms during the 1980s and 1990s.           

Author Biographies

Jing Qi, RMIT, Australia

Jing Qi, PhD, is a lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Sciences, RMIT University, Australia. Jing’s interdisciplinary research orientation is broadly concerned with globalization of education. She merges her research experience in multilingual, sociological, cultural, and technological studies to bring an innovative perspective to education research. Jing publishes in international education, doctoral education, teacher education and blended and mobile learning. Email:

Cheng Ma, Shanghai Art and Design Academy, China

Cheng Ma is a lecturer and media producer at Shanghai Art and Design Academy, China. He has been working in higher education since 2003, designing and delivering courses in the field of media production. He obtained a Master of Media degree at RMIT University, Australia. Cheng’s research focuses on the use of social media in higher education. He is also interested in Australia-China relations and cyber nationalism on social media. 




How to Cite

Qi, J., & Ma, C. (2021). Australia’s Crisis Responses During COVID-19: The Case of International Students. Journal of International Students, 11(S2), 94–111.