They are asking students due to commence learning this month to enrol for the virtual classes, as they wait for reopening of the borders to the country.

The agencies are counselling that priority for Australian education visas will be given to those beginning their studies virtually, once the boundaries open later this year or in 2022.

“We strongly encourage all students to start their studies online as we wait for the borders to be opened,” said a notice to students by Koala Education Consultants, an agency with operations in East and West African regions.

“Once the borders are opened priority will be given to students who have started their studies online and also hold a valid student visa.”

It further warned that when entry into the country is finally allowed, delays are likely to be experienced owing to the sheer number of entry visa applications that will need processing.

“There will be delays with visa processing once the borders are opened”

“There will be delays with visa processing once the borders are opened so we advise that you begin your visa application process right away as you start your studies online,” the Nairobi-based company added.

More than 220 Australian universities in partnership with the company held a virtual recruitment drive throughout Africa in March this year, well ahead of commencement of study semesters this July and in February 2022.

The hope for many students was that they would be able to join physical classes as per schedule, but this has been frustrated by restrictions caused by Covid-19.

Australia closed its borders in March 2020 because of the pandemic, preventing many including citizens outside the country from entry.

Africa is a key source for international students in the country, with approximately 9,000 students each year, mainly drawn from Anglophone African countries of Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Uganda, according to Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Some higher education institutions have expanded their operations, setting up campuses in Africa, one of them being Monash University which has a campus in South Africa.

On the hand, less that 12% according to Our World in Data of eligible people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in Australia, implying that reopening of entry to foreigners may take more time

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