Australia’s loss of over 100,000 foreign students in the past financial year could cost up to $6 billion to the economy.

Reports say there are currently around 472,000 holders of Australian student visas both inside and outside the country. That figure has reportedly dropped from more than 595,000 at the same time in 2020.

The same figures suggest overall commencements at Australian universities dropped by over 20 per cent in the year to April.

NSW has paused its plan to bring in small batches of foreign students, but South Australia appears to be proceeding with international student pilot programs.

International Education Association chief executive Phil Honeywood says the high education sector is facing a dim future.

“Political bravery to revive the beleaguered $40 billion international education industry appears to now be lacking across all states except South Australia,” he told News Corp reporters.

“The whole point of the states’ pilot student return plans is to show the wider Australian community that these young people can be brought back safely to resume their long-delayed studies. Now we are not even permitted to prove that this model can work.

“In the meantime, as highly specialised marketing, admissions and student services staff continue to be made redundant, there is real concern about the industry’s ability to dust itself off and quickly start up again.”

The association estimates that each student lost in the 2020-21 cohort is worth about $60,000 to the Australian economy, meaning a potential $2.5 billion lost in ­tuition fees and $3.5 billion lost in overall economic input.