Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has declared a launch of a pilot program in July which will allow international students to return to the country. The Industry stakeholders have also welcomed the decision. The PM confirmed that plans were being discussed “in a very controlled setting” to enable the safe return of international students who were pre-approved to study at particular institutions. The announcement was made after a national cabinet meeting.
Morrison also stated that students would only be accepted post appropriate quarantine measures. This means the students will have to adhere to a period of two weeks in quarantine, along with health screening and Covid-19 testing procedures. He further clarified that if the states wanted international students to return, they would have to “open up borders for Australians”.
South Australia is slated to open its borders on July 20. However, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania have not yet decided a date to open its borders.
The Australian Capital Territory’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, said that students would initially be arriving in hundreds, rather than thousands, and more groups will be considered if the first group proves to be successful.
Universities throughout the country that have been lobbying for the safe return of international students have happily embraced the decision. Catriona Jackson (Universities Australia, Chief Executive) said that the gradual return of international students into Australia necessitates careful planning with coordination between universities, governments and several other bodies. She also stated that the safety and welfare of the community is the utmost priority.
The international education sector is a key sector, owing to its contribution to the tune of AUD$39 billion to the Australian economy in 2019 and the generation of 259,000 jobs across the nation.