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States awaiting response on quarantine proposals in Australia

The Australian government is standing by its position on maintaining a hard border to protect its population from the Covid-19 pandemic.

International student commencers were down 19,100 (-33.5%) in Victoria in the year to March. Photo: iStock

Tuition fees from students outside Australia totalled $3.3 billion in 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated the cautious approach, saying Australia will open its borders, but not before it is safe.

“It is not safe to take those next steps right now. There is a sliding sort of scale here, and we’re working on the next steps,” he said.

Yet as budget assumptions suggest that borders will remain shut until mid-2022, universities and federal governments are pulling together formal proposals to allow students to return to their territories.

In Victoria, the government is working with education providers and the federal government on a plan to facilitate the gradual return of international students “when conditions allow”.

“To support this plan, the Victorian government has put forward a letter to the Australian government which would enable the safe arrival of key economic cohorts, which includes international students, to support Victoria’s and Australia’s economic recovery,” a spokesperson told The PIE News.

“The proposal would see a limited number of arrivals each week in addition to the existing international passenger arrival cap. Quarantine will be managed separately in a dedicated facility which adheres to the requirements of Victoria’s hotel quarantine program for returned overseas travellers to ensure the health and safety of our community.

“It is difficult to provide a definitive timeline for when international students can return to Victoria in significant numbers”

“It is difficult to provide a definitive timeline for when international students can return to Victoria in significant numbers. This will depend on health advice, the rollout of vaccines and other factors that need to be considered to ensure the safety of the community,” they added.

A NSW government spokesperson said it “has been working closely with the international education sector… on a plan to facilitate the safe return of international students to Australia and to our local communities”.

“This work is continuing to ensure that all safety and regulatory requirements can be met by any proposal,” they added.

In a statement to The PIE, Tourism and Innovation minister in Queensland Stirling Hinchliffe highlighted that the National Cabinet’s priority is the return of Australian citizens stranded overseas by the pandemic.

“The timing of student returns is a decision for the Federal Government as the level of government with responsibility for Australia’s international border,” he said.

“I’ve been working closely with Study Queensland and the State’s Vice-Chancellors to consolidate arrangements for the safe return of international students once the Federal Government makes its decision.”

The government for South Australia is also prioritising the return of international students and working closely with the commonwealth to finalise a plan that “meets all of the protocols and ensures a safe and sustainable program for both students and the South Australian community”, StudyAdelaide CEO Karyn Kent said.

Student accommodation facilities are being assessed for their suitability for quarantining returning students, she explained. The safety of students and the community remains the number one priority through each stage of the process, she added.

Since mid-2020, StudyPerth has been collaborating with a consortium of Western Australian universities – included liaising with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and relevant federal agencies – to plan for the safe return of international students.

Its “comprehensive” proposal has received strong support and advice from the WA chief health officer’s office, and is awaiting feedback from the WA government, StudyPerth chief executive officer Phil Payne noted.

Feedback is expected from the WA Department of the Premier and Cabinet within the next two weeks.

“The proposal is a proof of concept and has been developed to address the federal government’s protocols and preconditions and reflects the current environment of mandatory hotel quarantine with state-run quarantine arrangements and state-based arrival caps in WA,” Payne told The PIE.

It also includes “consideration of possible models for a post-vaccination scenario, which may also involve alternative quarantine or isolation facilities”.

Latest cumulative government figures show that international student commencements in the year to March 2021 fell by 31%, while the number of enrolments had fallen by 17%.

Other points-in-time statistics revealed that between July 2020 to March 2021, the total number of enrolled international students in Australia had dropped 21%, while the percentage of enrolled students overseas had leaped 82%.

Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics additionally shows that tuition fees from students outside Australia totalled $3.3 billion in 2020.

While media reports suggest that Morrison believes international students are the next priority cohort after the repatriation of Australian citizens, a Newspoll for The Australian recently found however that 73% of voters support the government’s ‘Fortress Australia’ approach and believe the international borders should remain closed until at least the middle of 2022.

“The premier’s cautious response to the pandemic is clearly popular with the electorate in WA,” said StudyPerth’s Payne.

“But we know that the WA government is keen for the international education sector to emerge strongly and sustainably from the shadows of Covid-19 and be an important component of a diversified economy and a job creator.”

Update 9:25 GMT, May 19: This article has been updated to include comment from Stirling Hinchliffe.



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17 Responses to States awaiting response on quarantine proposals in Australia

  1. Why the International students coming for year 11 and year 12 study exemption is not given? Year 11 and 12 is in the exemption category but ABF reject all applications. There is only 1% Students coming from India to study in high school still the exception is not giving. Year 11 is such an important part in their future and subject selection for year 12, work experience etc etc.Year 11 International students travel exemption to be considered in this time already half of the year is finished and no on line studies available for International students in India.

  2. I am international student who pay approximately 15000$ for one semester and still on india , i am so stressed and worried about my studies and future, who is responsible for this

  3. Why is the Australian government not allowing international students in that are already vaccinated and still willing to pay the quarantine fees for admittance?

  4. I do not understand why they have approved student visas if they have no definite timeline and not opening anytime soon. Every delay is bringing us closer to the expiry date of our unused visas. It’s wasting our money and time.

    • because we are paying more money that you can imagine for improvement of your country which you might not be aware of just for 2 years education . if you think you are are responsible citizen you have to be supporting us regarding this. how fun would it be for you to pay almost 80,000 $ and sit in home just for fun?

  5. because it’s not safe yet. Students have to wait. The entire Australia didn’t go on holidays for two years in order to save lives.. why should we let anyone in before we are fully vaccinated?

  6. The Australian government is not allowing international students because we have 0 COVID cases and, therefore 0 deaths.

    When we have a large percentage of the population vaccinated, we open.

  7. Due to pandemic and ravaging circumstances we’re getting dragged into severe stress, anxiety and depression. To overcome this state of mind please let the international students come back with vaccination and self-paid quarantine.

  8. Plzzzz open the borders plzzz my son is in india w8ing to return to australia plzz open my son visa is valid till november

  9. i was qurious about my future bcz i have been jobs less since 2020 oct. my plan is to study further but as per the situation all round world know i thank to god for not appling for aus know bcz all the situation is in frount of you all.may be not this year but one day my dream come true inshallallah.

  10. I am an international MD student stuck in Canada. I have paid 70K in tuition this year and am missing out on essential in-person coursework. Starting January, I should be doing my placements in hospital settings, but cannot do so if I have not completed all of my in-person coursework from this year. I’m in too deep money wise to choose another option at this point too… stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  11. Dear sir
    My name is Mohammad Ibrahim mirzayee from Afghanistan. I want to study my master’s degree in Australia and I also applied for a scholarship. Know how I can take visa.??

  12. When I got offers from Canadian and Australian universities. I chose australia over Canada. Please don’t make me to regret that. Please open the borders. We are ready for paid quarantine.

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