Education Minister Alan Tudge says it will be “very difficult” to get many foreign students back this year. 

The COVID-ravaged university sector is expected to lose up to $10 billion from closed international borders, and Mr Tudge says strong efforts will be needed to fill the gap. 

Mr Tudge took on the education portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle in December. 

He says he is determined to put Australian schools back on track  and find new ways to commercialise university research.

“According to the international standards, a 15 year-old has fallen behind by as much as a year compared to a 15 year-old 20 years ago,” he told News Corp reporters.

“We’ve got a role clearly in the funding which we’re stepping up to, in the curriculum. But importantly in teacher training courses in universities. Teacher quality is one of the most important drivers of increased standards.”

He also said he would come up with a new model for commercialising university research by the end of the year.

Estimates suggest around 12,000 jobs have been lost on campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that number is set to rise without a wave of international student fees.