How Australian Education Has Adapted Post Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented challenges upon educational systems worldwide, compelling institutions to swiftly adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Australia, renowned for its robust education sector, has been no exception. In response to the crisis, the Australian education system has demonstrated resilience and flexibility, implementing innovative strategies to mitigate the disruption caused by the pandemic and ensure continued educational opportunities for its students.

This article examines the adaptations the Australian education system made in the aftermath of the pandemic, encompassing a range of relevant aspects, including changes in instructional delivery, technology integration, support systems for remote learning, and the impact on student well-being.

Changes in Instructional Delivery

In the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of instructional delivery in Australian education has witnessed significant transformations. With the resumption of in-person schooling and the gradual recovery of international student enrolments, the educational system has been compelled to adapt to new circumstances and address emerging challenges. 

  • 20% more international students enrolled into Australian education institutes via visa in January 2023 than the previous year. This indicates that the change back to in-person teaching following the easing of pandemic border restrictions has caused a resurgence of international students and exchange programs.
  • Disadvantaged, rural and remote schools continue to struggle to hire classroom teachers following the return to in-person schooling, even with extra funding allocated for education by the Australian government in response to school closures during the pandemic. This has led to more crowded classrooms in terms of student-to-teacher ratios in public institutions, but not so much in independent schools, showing a disparity in funding efforts.
  • Private-for-profit institutions are the most successful in adapting to the new technology-focused instructional deliveries due to their smaller scale and flexible workforce arrangements. Australian public education will likely need to follow their models of teaching to better adjust to the new ways education is imparted.

 As the education sector strives to navigate these changes, it becomes increasingly important to explore effective models of instructional delivery that can accommodate the evolving needs of students and align with the demands of a technology-driven educational landscape.

Technology Integration

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated technology integration in Australia’s education system, both during and after the crisis. Schools and universities swiftly transitioned to remote learning, utilising digital platforms and online tools to ensure continuity of education. This experience has highlighted the potential of technology to enhance instructional delivery, foster interactive learning experiences, and provide flexible learning options for students across the country:

  • During 2021-22, when the pandemic was at its peak, online learning was the most common way Australians received work-related training at 55%. This is a significant rise from 19% in 2016-17 and may indicate that education’s means of preparing students for their future will be technology driven.
  • The recent focus on online learning in recent years has caused a boom in the industry’s market size across the globe. For example, Australia’s online learning industry in 2022 was $8.4 million.
  • There are concerns about the long-term effects of education’s technology integration on children as teachers and parents cannot always monitor what the screen time is being used for. This reliance on technology, while providing more adaptive learning styles and a chance to prepare for the workforce, may cause unseen emotional and mental impacts on the children’s well-being, including early exposure to severe online bullying.

Support Systems

During and after the pandemic, Australia’s education system swiftly implemented support systems for remote learning. Schools and institutions utilised a range of strategies, including digital platforms, virtual classrooms, and online resources, to facilitate seamless and accessible education for students at home. This integration of support systems aimed to mitigate disruptions, ensure educational continuity, and promote student engagement in the remote learning environment.

  • The most common field of study in post-primary education has been Business and Management, followed by Teacher Education, and then Nursing. However, the fastest growing is Security Science, followed by Artificial Intelligence and Southern Asian Languages. This indicates a growing focus on global studies and technology needed in the professional market and supports the inclusion of technology in education from an early age.
  • Students in disadvantaged schools, such as those of lower socio-economic status, actually experienced greater growth in mathematics and reading during 2021 when compared to 2019. This is likely due to the Australian government’s initiative for extra education funding and a stronger focus on literacy following the change to online learning. The NSW Department of Education’s tutoring scheme was implemented in 2021 to continue this progress and aims to finish in June 2023.

Impact on Student Well-being

Within the context of Australia’s education system, the well-being of students has been significantly impacted during and after the pandemic. The prolonged periods of remote learning, social isolation, and disrupted routines have posed challenges to students’ mental health and overall well-being. However, hope is given by the prioritisation of implementing support services, counselling, and mindfulness programs to address these concerns and promote the holistic well-being of students in the post-pandemic educational landscape.

  • International students have been hit with higher costs for taking undergraduate courses in recent years, with their costs in Australia being twice the amount charged to national students. This is a means to make up for lost revenue by Australian education institutes, but it actively negatively impacts 
  • The strict focus of “back to basics” that the Australian education system used during the pandemic, which excluded sports, excursions, assemblies, and other extracurriculars instead of more time spent on literacy and mathematics, had detrimental effects on students returning physically to school.
  • Student engagement continues to be affected by the pandemic as the integration of technology into teaching and learning has excluded many disadvantaged students.
  • The continued inclusion of technology in primary and secondary education post-pandemic has allowed for the further development of necessary skills that are relevant to continued education and the workforce. This can be seen through the inclusion of online-only university degrees. Australian students can now continue their education solely online, as seen with an online masters degree with UTS, allowing them the flexibility to continue their education anywhere, so long as they have access to technology.

As we navigate the new normal, it is crucial to understand the lessons learned and the transformations that have taken place within Australian education. By shedding light on the post-pandemic landscape, we can contribute to the ongoing discourse surrounding educational adaptability and provide insights for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders as they shape the future of education in Australia.

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