International students will not be allowed to return to Australia yet, as Canberra is giving precedence to the return of locals who have been stuck abroad, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
In an effort to restrain the COVID-19 further spread, since March, the country has closed its borders to all non-citizens as well as to permanent residents, Erudera College News reports.
International students contribute to the Australian economy with nearly A$35 billion during a year; thus, the capital Canberra was planning to welcome back international students next year.
However, according to PM Morrison, this is unachievable due to lack of quarantine facilities and thousands of Australians remaining overseas who want to return to the country.
“There is a queue, and Australians are in the front of the queue,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Each week, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Australia sets the number of locals who are allowed to return to the country. All those citizens must quarantine for two weeks upon their return home.
Earlier this year, Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson told Reuters that by continually prohibiting international students, Australia’s education sector risks facing a huge gap between A$3.1 billion and A$4.8 billion this year.
Moreover, according to the education think-tank, Mitchell Institute, if the border restrictions remain, the number of international students in Australia would reach 300,000 fewer international students by June next year. Whereas Sydney could face the decline of more than 70,000 students, Mitchell Institute estimates.
In October, the Northern Territory government announced that the city of Darwin was planning to welcome a group of 70 international students from Singapore.
Earlier, it has been reported that the number of international students in Australia is decreasing from thousands to dozens, and for this reason, the market could take years to recover.
A month ago, the government announced that it would dedicate A$1 billion to support university research.
According to Project Atlas Data, during 2019, there were 420,501 international students in total pursuing higher education in Australia.