Aussie Prime Minister Announces Delays for International Students

Many international students had previously been looking forward to returning to Australia to complete their studies, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a delay on international students arriving in Australia. In a speech after the national cabinet meeting on 13 November, Morrison said that the focus will be on bringing Australian citizens back to Australia before allowing international students to return. 

What the Prime Minister has announced regarding returning travellers

In his speech, Morrison highlighted the Government’s aim to put Australian citizens first, saying, “The challenges we have in getting Australians home means the ability to move and take international students back at this time through quarantine arrangements does not present itself. It’s Australians coming home first.”

International education was worth $37.6 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2018-19, so this was no doubt a difficult decision for the Australian Government. 

How this will affect international students

The Prime Minister’s announcement means that international students will have to wait even longer before being given the green light to return to Australia for their studies. The PM was also unable to give any insight into when international students will be able to return, saying, “I can’t give a commitment to the states that we’d be in a position to allow any … broader entry of international students at this time. But we’ll look at it again in several weeks.”

Morrison was clear that this delay will not affect the pilot programs that have been given the go-ahead by several state governments. That being said, news of the recent COVID-19 outbreak in South Australia is expected to delay the return of international students to the state. 

Speaking to SBS, a government spokesperson said, “Our priority is the health and safety of South Australians, and we are doing everything we possibly can to get on top of this cluster, to keep South Australia safe and strong.” The spokesperson then went on to say that, “All inbound international flights have been suspended until the end of this week.”

What else is being done to support international students returning to Australia

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has said that states have been asked to draw up plans on how they intend to accommodate the return of international students. While he didn’t go into much detail, he did say that universities and other educational institutions will be working closely with state governments on any plan to bring international students back to Australia. 

Have any international students returned since the border closed?

While the international border has been closed for some time, some international students have returned. The Australian Government closed the borders to Australia in March, but 300 international students have returned to Australia over the past seven months. These students were allowed to return depending upon how critical Australia considered them to be. Speaking to SBS, international student Ramandeep Singh Sidhu said that he was given an exemption as he was considered a critical worker due to his work experience in the aged care sector.