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South Australia approves plan for return of international students

A new plan to allow international students to return to South Australia has been approved by SA Health and is now being considered by the federal government, according to local media reports.

A plan to allow students to return to South Australia has been approved by SA Health. Photo: Pexels

"In 2019, almost 20,000 jobs were underpinned by international education"

Under the plan, 160 students will be brought in at a time and spend two weeks quarantining at Parafield Airport, in the north of the city of Salisbury. 

“International students add so much to South Australia’s multicultural fabric, along with the clear economic benefits”

According to a report by ABC News, a state government spokesperson said chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier had approved the international student arrival plan because it met all the protocols and requirements of the federal government.

International students have been unable to travel to Australia since borders were shut last year and the disruption has resulted in significant overall declines in enrolments in the country.

“International students add so much to South Australia’s multicultural fabric, along with the clear economic benefits for our CBD and our state overall, with every three students leading to the creation of one job,” the state government spokesperson said.

“In 2019, almost 20,000 jobs were underpinned by international education, which is massive for our state.

“International education is a significant part of South Australia’s economy, contributing over $2 billion in 2019, partly spent with our education providers such as schools and universities, and also providing a boost to our retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.”

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that South Australia’s international education sector was valued at AUS$2.2bn in 2019.

StudyAdelaide welcomed the announcement as “promising news”.

“The plan has the full support of our Chief Health Officer and SA Police and we think it will be positively received by the Federal Government as all advice and protocols have been considered,” said Karyn Kent, chief executive of StudyAdelaide.

The nominated quarantine facility is student accommodation for a local flight school, and is currently the “preferred space” to meet the quarantine and health standards required, she continued.

StudyAdelaide previously said student accommodation facilities were being assessed for their suitability to quarantine returning students.

“The submission of our state’s plan is the first of several milestones we have to achieve before we will see the first students return. Subject to the federal government’s response to the plan, and implementation of the next steps, we are hopeful that students will return in the second half of 2021,” Kent added.

“The plan is only for international students studying in SA, each state/territory is considering their own options.”

“The main issue is: Is it safe? We don’t want it to get out into our community”

The plan to bring international students back into South Australia has been met with some concern from local people, however.

Salisbury’s mayor Gillian Aldridge told ABC News that she did not want to see Covid–19 spreading from the facility. 

“It is really important that my community recognises that we as a council will do [our] best — working with the government — to make sure they are safe, the community is safe,” Aldridge said.

“That is our number one priority. The main issue is: Is it safe? We don’t want it to get out into our community, and I am being told that will not happen.”

Last year, minister for trade and investment Stephen Patterson said that while the industry had been inevitably hit by the impact of Covid-19, South Australia’s worldwide standing as a leader in international education remains intact.

“Once international borders open up, our state’s incredible health response and nation-leading support for international students will act as a guiding light for new students looking for a study destination,” Patterson said. 

“Overall Australia saw 207,773 fewer international enrolments this year across all sectors”

However, there is uncertainty around how long students are likely to put up with waiting for borders to re-open. 

Recent cumulative government figures in the year to March 2021 have shown that international student commencements fell by 31%, while the number of enrolments have fallen by 17%. Overall Australia saw 207,773 fewer international enrolments this year across all sectors.

The delays around students not being able to return to Australia have also had a significant impact on their mental health. 

Some 93% of international students stranded overseas have experienced significant mental health issues, according to a recent report by the Council of International Students Australia

“The picture painted on mental health impact was shockingly distressing. A whopping nine out of 10 students reported to [have] experienced stress regarding their situation, with over two-thirds reported self- diagnosed anxiety and/or self-diagnosed depression,” the report said. 

Some 91% of respondents said that they wanted additional mental health support and resources for stranded students. Other findings of the report were that 64% of respondents stated they are unsatisfied with online learning quality and experience.

Update: June 2, 09:30 GMT article updated to include comment from StudyAdelaide.

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17 Responses to South Australia approves plan for return of international students

  1. there should be a plan for everyone, as being a tamporary residence myself, we are ready to provide negative covid19 report by lab approved by austrilian immigretion department, more are happy to get vaccine approved by australian immigration department and provide proof to the same department, ready to pay expenses for quarantine, just let us travel ?!? please?!?

  2. I am also one of the student who apply Australia for higher studies. But due to close border i am unable to go there. Now i feel depressed due to this situation. Everytime i heard news with the hope. But everytime Australian government breaks students hope. Please take is seriously because our study, career and lots of money is in difficult situation.

  3. sir,

    its been one year since i have been waiting for open australian borders. Is there any hope…

  4. COVID 19 has Significantly Impacted on health and economy worldwidely.Letting students to travel in your country leads a rise in your economy and if proper tests and appropiriate Laws were made deffinately it will not be the larger issue.

  5. my daughter is studying year 10 online in SA college since January, this is her first year. both she and I felt lost on failing re-open of SA border. Year 11 is very critical to better have face-to-face studying. urge SA to considers SACE results for international student, travel bubbles (with Hong Kong), sets priority for different year levels. I am sure both parents and students wouldn’t mine do more to ensure a safe visit of SA

  6. We are paying $49000 total for online course from our home country which is not justifiable and the main thing is there are lots of probpems we face while studying online. Online study quality is very bad which is why I am wasting my money and I am really going through depresssion. My career, my life is at stake. With every problem there is a solution but closing a border like this is not a solution. Solving students problem and hearing our problem and having plan of action is the real solution. *Make arrangement for quarantine hotels,
    *Make student to test for covid before taking flight to
    australia and after landing to australia.
    We are happy to pay for those expenses because we are also very concerned about what is happening in the world but we cannot afford to lose our career , our life and our money.
    We humbly request you to open border as soon as possible.

  7. Unfortunately, Samir, we are putting people’s lives above your career.

    We still need our population vaccinated and our quarantine improved before we gamble on killing people.

    We really understand that this is causing mental health issues, but Australia has avoided the health and economic disasters in the northern hemisphere. We do not know the future, but at the moment, it looks very positive for international students to return in 2022.

    • but the issue is there is no sort of sympathy from the Australian government nor do they layout any plans ,nor do I see any hurry in wanting to get the population vaccinated asap

  8. My niece is enrolled for year 11 and 12. Unable to attend school due to border closure. Year 11 is very crucial for SACE and her future studies and career selection. Now year 11 is almost halfway through and still no hope to come to Australia to commence her studies. She missed her class and exams due to medical/visa paperwork and currently sitting at home how cruel is this .A student who is a high achiever missing her class and unable to attend school.

  9. It’s been an year we are waiting for the opening of the border….. It’s too straining and we are undergoing in such situation. Hoping for a good news for western Australia

  10. It’s great that SA has approved the international student to travel . My brother enrolled in NSW . I think NSW should consider similar approaches.
    Students should be prioritise over other non essential travellers. Because they are paying huge amount. If Canada able to keep student coming in Australia should too.

  11. Canada has paid a huge price for keeping the borders open. Maybe, they did not have a choice being next to the USA and with a poorer economy.

    However, Australia is in a stronger position and we do not want the short-term results Canada has suffered. NSW now has an outbreak of COVID. They will not open fully until 2022.

  12. Why there is not an open border protocol with 14 days prior quarantine?
    Isn’t that safe enough considering all the students and family members left in Australia too?

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