In a bid to help its education sector recover, which has significantly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia is trying to bring back international students, allowing re-entrance of the vaccinated Singaporean students or providing special student-only flights and quarantine facilities.
According to Erudera.com, in 2019, the international education sector of Australia was worth A$40 billion, becoming the fourth biggest export in the country. Yet, due to the pandemic, the number of international students in the country decreased, thus affecting Australian universities which rely on international student fees.
The latest Australian Research Snapshots on enrollment deferments revealed that a total of 101,628 enrollments at Australian universities were deferred from the beginning of 2020 to November 2020.
As per international students currently in the country, research carried out in Queensland has shown that due to pandemic developments, the latter are suffering food insufficiency.
According to official data, currently, there are 374,000 internationals holding student visas in Australia, excluding their dependents. Prior to the pandemic, this number was as high as 580,000.
Australia’s authorities said the country would begin its second phase of vaccination roll-out on Monday, March 22, during which persons aged 70 or above, as well as a group of health workers, will be immunized.
Until last Thursday, one percent of the population, or nearly 250,000 Australians, had been vaccinated.
Australia has picked out as its two first potential travel partners Singapore and New Zealand, including two-way travel corridors and quarantine-free entry by mid-year.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan notified that he is planning to travel to Singapore during the next two months to discuss the vaccine certificate system creation, which will make it possible for citizens to travel.
Whereas, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that it has been considering the possibility to allow travel with priority for students and business travelers with Australia. However, the ministry highlighted that it has not been considering the “concept of a quarantine center or vaccination hub.”
Australian universities have expressed delight over the proposal for Singapore-Australia travel, claiming that this has been one of the first steps in allowing students from Asia to return to the country.
During 2020, 7,420 Singaporeans enrolled at Australian education institutions, a decrease from 8,325 in 2019.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills, and Employment told Erudera.com that Australia closing international borders has been crucial to preventing the COVID-19 spread.
In order to facilitate the international students’ return, the universities sector has proposed the creation of a specific travel and quarantine scheme for international students, but due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases which erupted from quarantine facilities, the health authorities have not considered the plan.