Desperate to bring international students back to the country, universities in Victoria, Australia, have proposed an existing plan over the matter.
Through the proposal, universities would assist nearly 1,000 international students returning to Melbourne every two to three weeks, paying for their flights and a quarantine scheme created under the Australian Open program allowing tennis players to return, Erudera.com reports.
Back in March last year, after the borders closed, several states had considered similar proposals to bring back international students yet did not proceed with those plans. Since then, only a small number of 63 students managed to return to the Northern Territory.
It has been estimated that as of January 10, 2021, around 160,000 student visa holders remained outside Australia.
In an email sent to the association’s members, the CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, said that while lobbying for federal politicians to proceed with proposals over students’ return, they have been receiving responses telling that a particular state or territory government should fully monitor the quarantine.
”However, our discussions with state and territory politicians invariably produce the response that because the federal government controls the Border Force, the ADF and international airport arrival caps, they are the ones actually in control,” Honeywood said.
On the other hand, at the end of March, the Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said there is still an opportunity to return international students in “small phased pilots.”
”I have discussed various plans with government and university leaders but to date have not received any concrete proposal,” he said.
The first to propose plans on bringing back international students were the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia. Their plans announced in June 2020 mentioned the return of 350 and 800 students to Canberra and Adelaide, each. However, none of them proceeded with these plans following the second wave of virus in Victoria during July.
Back in December, the Victorian government was planning to return 23,000 international students at the beginning of 2021, who would complete their quarantine in student accommodation. Nevertheless, during a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the return of Australian citizens is a priority.
In addition to Victoria, New South Wales also presented a scheme on returning 1,000 international students to Sydney every week, which was suspended in January.
In March 2021, Prime Minister Morrison said that the number of people at the Howard Springs facility would increase to 2,000 persons per fortnight, but it has not been reported whether these places will be open for international students as well.