The number of international students who travelled to Australia in March dropped by 16 per cent compared to the same time last year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released statistics on May 12 highlighted the drastic effect of COVID-19 on international travel.

Spanish student Mikel Badiola planned to start post-graduate study at the University of Wollongong but, due to the coronavirus restrictions, chose instead to pursue study in his home country.

“I have studied in Australia before and loved it, so I was really excited at the chance to come back,” he said.

“The best option for me now though [because of the virus] is to study in Spain, because restrictions have made it impossible to travel to Wollongong and I would not like to study remotely through an overseas university.”

Travel restrictions between countries are expected to be in place for a long time, and will continue to affect overseas arrivals and departures into Australia. In a recent press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “there’s nothing on our radar which would see us opening up international travel in the foreseeable future.”

“There are already some minor exceptions … but it’s in very limited circumstances.”

The ABS statistics showed arrivals into Australia decreased dramatically compared to previous years, with the number of short-term arrivals dropping by 60 per cent. The total arrivals into Australia also dropped by a total of 45 per cent.

The number of visitors travelling to Australia for the purpose of a holiday dropped by a colossal 69 per cent.

Due to travel restrictions being set in March, departures from Australia decreased by 50 per cent compared to the previous year.

For more information head to the ABS website.