Cr Schrinner said Brisbane was home to more than 97,000 international students prior to the pandemic and an estimated 40-60 per cent had now returned.
“Prior to the impact of Covid-19, Brisbane was the city of choice for 70 per cent of Queensland’s international student cohort,” he said. “International students contributed $2.76 billion to the local economy and created 18,000 full time jobs in addition to the diversity, culture and energy they brought to our community.
“Their absence was very much felt across Brisbane and after a very challenging two years, today’s event marks a turning of the tide for our city’s COVID-19 recovery.” Cr Schrinner said the returning international students will have a hugely positive impact on the Brisbane economy.
“More than 50 per cent of students who were studying in Brisbane in 2019 were employed within our local industries, particularly in areas like hospitality and retail,” he said.
“The labour shortages currently being experienced are a handbrake on our economic recovery so the return of international students is a huge boost for cafes, bars, restaurants and retailers looking to fill casual and part time roles.
“Student accommodation providers are telling us that enquiries are very strong and that they’re expecting occupancy to be back at pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year – which is more fantastic news.
“We also look forward to the positive tourism benefits this will bring, with more than 20,000 people visiting an international student in Brisbane in 2019.” University of Queensland Vice Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, said it was uplifting to see an increase in international students on campus.
“More than 50 per cent of our enrolled international students are back on shore, with another 40 per cent or so still overseas, who we hope will join us on campus over the next few months or as soon as they can,” Professor Terry said.
“Brisbane is a caring and supportive destination for international students and we are very excited to have them back with us.
“With a rewarding world-class education and lifestyle experience in our city on offer, they have the potential to go on to become a future source of talent for Queensland industry.” Cr Schrinner said there was still a way to go to get international student number back to pre-pandemic levels.
“With our warm weather, world-class opportunities for education and lively precincts such as Fish Lane and Howard Smith Wharves, our city has a reputation for being a fantastic place to study and I’m confident we’ll return to those levels,” he said.
Hundreds of students attended the welcome event in King George Square supported by Study Queensland, part of Trade and Investment Queensland, which featured live music and food, and provided opportunities for universities, training providers, local businesses and support services to re-connect with students.