International Students Returning to Australia: Update

There has been a range of positive announcements across Australia this week regarding international students returning to commence or recommence their studies. Here are the updates you need to know about.

NSW Premier announces increased quarantine allocations for international students

Positive news for international students hoping to return to Australia broke on Sunday as New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced a plan to allocate up to 1,000 quarantine places each week for international students and skilled migrants returning to the state.

The news comes only a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a delay on international students returning to Australia, in order to bring Australian citizens stranded overseas back home first. 

Ms Berejiklian is planning to allocate up to a third of the state’s hotel quarantine places for international students and skilled migrants in a bid to save university jobs and boost the Australian economy. 

While the rest of Australia isn’t open to returning international students yet, Ms Berejiklian is calling on the other states to increase their intake of returning travellers. Currently, New South Wales offers the largest number of quarantine places to returning Australians (over 3,000 a week) and she is hoping that other states will take note. 

She says, “I don’t want to see universities lay off hundreds and hundreds of workers because international students can’t get back in.”

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has explained that educational institutions will be working closely with state governments to work out how to accommodate the return of international students to the country. Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson remains firm that the return of international students must be done safely. 

“We stand ready to welcome international students back to our campuses when it is safe to do so.” 

Singapore to Darwin pilot program confirmed; others delayed

For now, the Charles Darwin University pilot program is still set to return a small number of international students to the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory program was put on hold after the surge of cases in nearby Victoria, and Adelaide’s recent outbreak has cast some uncertainty around the program going ahead in South Australia. The program was expected to bring up to 300 international students back to South Australia this month. 

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, said that South Australia will be committed to bringing back these international students through the pilot program as soon as the outbreak is contained. 

There are currently over 35,000 Australians waiting to return to Australia from overseas. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, wants to make progress on the number of Australian citizens returning home before allowing international students back. 

Mr Andrews says, “If we can see fast enough movement in terms of the bringing down of that list of returning Australians, then I would like nothing more than to see international students able to safely come through proven processes.”

Although there is still a lot of uncertainty around specific return dates for most international students, more steps are being taken to get international students back to Australia safely and Gladys Berejiklian’s plan represents a significant step forward for international students hoping to return to New South Wales.