Universities across Australia have welcomed the news that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is recognizing Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India) vaccines for international travelers.
Chief Executive of the Group of Eight (Go8), Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, Vicki Thomson, said that the decision gives certainty to Australia’s international students, pointing out that it is a milestone in “ensuring a smooth transition” for students’ return to the country’s campuses once the government considers it safe.
“Importantly, we can now provide clear advice to our international students, who while continuing their studies offshore have had to rely on the vaccines made available to them,” she said.
Thomson said that announcement will provide the necessary boost to international students in Australia, adding that the Go8 has some 30,000 international students who are studying offshore.
“They have stuck by our world class universities during the pandemic with the expectation that they can eventually be back in Australia to resume their studies on campus.”
She also welcomed the news that New South Wales will return international students in phased programs by the end of this year, claiming that it is a crucial step in Australia’s post-pandemic recovery. According to her, international students represent a significant proportion of research cohorts pursuing studies in important fields such as engineering, information technology, and agriculture.
“Without these students, Australia risks suffering skills gaps in the very areas that we are increasingly going to need to be competitive in a post-pandemic environment,” Thomson stressed.
Last week, the Group of Eight, which is made up of Australia’s largest and oldest universities enrolling the majority of international students, wrote a letter to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, urgently seeking advice on the government’s position on the vaccination mandates for international students.
The two vaccines approved by TGA have been administered in China and India, which are the two main source countries of international students in Australia. Nevertheless, Sinovac is also recognized in some world countries, including:
- the Philippines
Most recently, during a virtual press conference with Indian media, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the returning Australian citizens and permanent residents are the government’s priority once the borders reopen, followed by skilled migrants and international students.
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment said that the number of international students returning to Australia will gradually increase in 2022. A Department’s spokesperson added that international student arrival would be guided by the health advice and the rollout of vaccines.