The New South Wales (NSW) government proposes a separate Covid quarantine program for overseas students to return to Australia. NSW is considering an alternative hotel quarantine program to support the return of international students.
The treasury department has started calling for expressions of interest to proceed with the program, which ends on April 12. An Expression of Interest is a process of conveying your interest in applying for a skilled visa to migrate to Australia.
The return of international students is crucial for Australia’s post-pandemic recovery
The return of international students is crucial for retaining jobs in the education sector and for economic recovery.
International education is the second-largest export, making 14.6 billion Australian dollars in exports and supporting nearly 100,000 jobs in NSW. The Covid-19 outbreak has decimated a requisite $14.6bn industry. The estimate in 2021 shows Australia has already lost one-third of its international student base.
The government stated that returning international students must not override returning Australian citizens and permanent residents and must not burden extended health and police resources. A solution is needed to classify a flexible, ongoing number of regular arrivals outside of the 3,000 per weekly cap that would sit adjacent to the current quarantine hotel program implementing the same protocols and processes and led by NSW police and health.
The program invites qualified purpose-built student accommodation providers based in the Sydney CBD or its fringe to submit an expression of interest with a glimpse of forming a panel of qualified providers to house overseas students coming into NSW for the 14days quarantine period.
International students will also be an essential element of helping Australian young people in a post-pandemic recovery. The reason being international students make immense contributions to the resources available in the tertiary education sector.
Continued frustration and anxiety for international students
Despite the announcement, there is ongoing frustration and stress for international students who remain locked out of Australia due to COVID-19 travel limitations.
Government announcements over plans for their return to Australia have come to nothing. Not all international students were cheered by the message.
Many international students are expressing their frustrations over flip-flop policies regarding their return to Australia via Twitter.
Many students have been clueless over when they can return to Australia in the past year, while proposed pilot programs to facilitate their return have been delayed. Only Charles Darwin University in Australia was victorious to carry out this pilot program to bring in a small number of international students last November.
The absence of a timeline for lifting travel restrictions has caused an incredible amount of anxiety for students stranded offshore.
Students call to boycott the country and are now looking to other destinations whose border rules have been more favourable to international students, like Canada.
Alan Tudge, Minister for Education, stated that he is confident that most international students could return to Australia by semester 1 of 2022 with vaccine rollouts underway. He also requested Australian universities to improve their online or hybrid learning standards and provide different price offerings for their programs and micro-credentials.