If you’re an international student awaiting travel to Australia, you might be noticing some conflicting reports. If you’re currently searching for flights online, you’ll be faced with unusual flight paths and incredibly high prices, which are also impacted by the current border closures instated by some Australian states and territories. However, you’ll also notice news bulletins announcing that a ‘secure corridor’ may be created to allow safe travel for international students into Australia, with some media outlets announcing students can return to Australia as soon as July. So, what’s actually happening?
When can international students come back to Australia?
The simple answer is: we don’t know yet. At present, the borders to Australia are still closed. However, there are changes happening.
It was announced on 16 June that both the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia are launching pilot programs that will allow international students to return to these areas. South Australia plans to admit 800 international students in July under a pilot program, so students can return to the state’s three universities – The University of Adelaide, The University of South Australia and Flinders University. Meanwhile, the ACT has announced plans for a few hundred students, who are enrolled at either the Australian National University or the University of Canberra, to arrive in late July. New South Wales and Victoria are expected to announce their own plans soon.
As of 8 June, Singapore Airlines has resumed passenger flights in and out of Australia (an up-to-date schedule of available flights is available here). Note that only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia at this time. Incoming travellers will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine, and all flights are subject to regulatory approvals. There are even talks of creating a ‘green lane’ for travellers that will not have to quarantine upon arriving in Australia, but this is unconfirmed.
What should I do?
At present, the best thing you can do is maintain communication with your education provider in Australia and keep an eye out for official breaking news that will announce when more international flights are reinstated, and what border measures are in place. The Australian Government website and SmartTraveller are two valuable resources you can use.
What about my student visa?
If you’re wondering what will happen to your student visa – for example, if you have received a student visa but are unable to enter Australia at this time – refer to the Department of Home Affairs for more information, or contact the nearest office to speak to someone.
If you have been unable to enter Australia to commence your studies, the Australian Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 and its travel restrictions have meant that certain conditions cannot be met, for example, your attendance at class or the use of online learning. Again, refer to the Department of Home Affairs for more information, or contact the nearest office to speak to someone.
When will my campus reopen?
As restrictions begin to ease across Australia, in-line with the Government’s 3 Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia, campuses will begin opening. Some campuses are open now, allowing students to return. However, in many cases, the majority of classes will remain online until further notice.
Your education provider will be in touch with you directly to inform you of when campuses are open, or when classes will return to in-person learning, so keep an eye on your emails.
If you have not been updated, contact your education provider directly to find out if your campus is open, and if it is, what you are permitted to do on campus, in-keeping with any safety measures in place.