Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a pilot program to be launched in July that will enable international students to return home.
The PM has stated that proposals are being discussed “in a very regulated environment” to allow the safe return of pre-approved international students to study at specific institutions. The announcement had been made after a meeting of the national cabinet.
Industry stakeholders welcomed the announcement of a pilot program by the Australian federal government to enable international students to return to the country as soon as July and to reduce the Chinese government’s travel restrictions and accusations of racism.
In announcing the move after a meeting of the national cabinet, Morrison said students would only be accepted with appropriate quarantine measures. He also made it clear that if the states and territories wanted international students to return, Australians would have to “open borders.”
On July 20, South Australia is set to open its borders, but Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania have not yet set a date for lifting restrictions.
“I think we have received some very well-thought-through state proposals as to how [bringing in students] can be achieved,” Morrison said, emphasizing the Australian Capital Territory as having done exceptionally well on this issue.
“This is something that I am sure we would all welcome happening again, but it has to be done with the appropriate quarantine entry arrangements and biosecurity, and all these matters [are] being addressed.”
In a report by Canberra Times, ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr said that students would be required to follow a two-week quarantine period upon arrival and go through safety screening protocols and Covid-19 testing.
Universities throughout the country lobbied for the return of international students, who generated a record $15.9 billion in tuition fees for the higher education sector in 2018-19.
Universities have been talking to the federal government for some time about an overarching framework for a safe return. With different pilot plans under review, it is good to see progress today.
“The gradual reintroduction of foreign students to Australia requires careful preparation, with cooperation between universities, governments across jurisdictions, health authorities and other key stakeholders,” added Jackson.
She also said a trial would rigorously test the controlled entry of international students and would involve stringent quarantine arrangements placed in place by governments of the state and territories.
“Student return will be key to reactivating businesses and creating jobs across the country. A pilot is an essential first step towards getting our valued international friends back on a larger scale in the future.
- The plan being worked out to allow international students from next month
- Students will be allowed to bring in specific institutions
- A pilot scheme to commence in July