International students might be able to return to their Australian education institutions through small phased programs by the end of this year potentially, and then gradually increase in 2022, a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment said.
“It is expected that international students will return gradually to Australia with small phased programs, potentially commencing in late 2021 and progressively increasing in 2022,” the spokesperson said.
The Department of Education reiterated that the Australian Government is continuing its discussions with all states and territories around the planning for international student arrivals when conditions allow. It further pointed out that any return of international students to Australia will be guided by the health advice and the rollout of vaccines, in line with the National Plan to Transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response.
“Any future decisions will be guided by expert health advice and in alignment with all Government directive,” the spokesperson told Erudera College News.
Contrary to the report of the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University named “Impact of coronavirus on international students in Australia” which identified 210,000 fewer international students in Australia, the Department of Education officials said that department’s data show only 69,427 fewer enrolments (YTD July 2019 compared to YTD 2021).
New South Wales has finalized its plan to reopen the international higher education sector, which has been given the green light by the Commonwealth government and announced that it will start returning international students by the end of this year. A total of 500 fully-vaccinated international students are expected to travel to Australia in early December via two chartered flights.
However, according to the state government, students from China and Nepal are excluded from the pilot plan as Australia does not recognize China’s COVID-19 vaccines.
The returning students will complete quarantine at the accommodation provider Scape in Redfern, at a building expected to accommodate up to 650 students according to COVIDSafe standards approved by NSW Health and NSW Police.
Educational institutions that have signed up to the industry-funded pilot plan are:
- Australian Catholic University
- Macquarie University
- The University of Newcastle
- The University of Sydney
- University of Wollongong
- Western Sydney University
Other education partners backing the plan include International College of Management Sydney, Kaplan, Navitas, RedHill, and Study Group.
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism, and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said that New South Wales was the top destination in Australia for international students, as the majority of them chose the state to pursue their studies.
“More than 57,000 students are currently overseas, with many desperate to return, resume their studies, part-time jobs, connect with friends and continue their journey in our world-leading institutions,” Ayres added.
This week, Erudera College News reported that international students have been banned from entering Australia for 551 days since the country closed its borders, while at the time of writing, 555 days have passed.
Australia closed its international borders on March 20, 2020, allowing only its Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members and travelers who have been in New Zealand for at least 14 days before departure, to enter the country.