Study in Australia 202121 May 2020 by News Desk
Study in Australia 2021: International students could be back at Australian universities at the beginning of 2021.
International student arrivals would begin from countries deemed safe and be subject to self-funded quarantine requirements under a plan put to federal and state governments by the elite Group of Eight universities.
The “secure corridor” framework could allow for students to return en masse subject to strict health checks and with the co-operation of government agencies and the aviation industry, according to the proposal being considered by federal and state leaders
About 120,000 students, or 20 per cent of total international enrolments in Australia, have been stranded offshore by the pandemic and imposed travel restrictions. Universities are facing major financial blows, estimated at $3 billion to $4.6 billion in the next six months as revenue losses deepen in second semester.
The first step of the framework – which could allow students currently overseas commencing or renewing their studies by first semester 2021 – would be a “rigorous protocol for selecting eligible source countries” that had contained the spread of COVID-19.
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Countries’ control of the coronavirus would be demonstrated by sustained low infection rates, high testing rates and an ability to deal with outbreaks. The source countries would also have a record of compliance with visa conditions and students “may be required” to download the COVIDSafe contact tracing app.
Students would be subject to pre-travel isolation and health checks in their home countries and then be flown to Australia with a “trusted Australian carrier”. The strategy calls for co-operation with airlines to facilitate flights and deal with pricing.
Students would then go into designated quarantine accommodation, which they would pay for themselves. Universities would take charge of airport pick-ups and escort students to the accommodation. Quarantine would be closely monitored to ensure compliance.
“International students are keen to return to Australia to either continue or commence their tertiary studies,” the strategy states. “Universities can and are committed to providing a fully facilitated safe-return process with the support of the government.”
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Federal, state and territory governments have been briefed on the plan proposed by the Group of Eight that is intended to lay out consistent principles that could be adapted in different states and territories based on local COVID-19 policies.
Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said priority was meeting the needs of domestic students but universities must plan for international student arrivals “when the time is right” subject to government approval. “We would expect to see the bulk of our students back for semester 1, 2021,” Ms Thomson said.
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New analysis from Australian National University higher education research Andrew Norton estimates 27 per cent of Australian university spending is funded by international student fees, illustrating the sector’s significant reliance on the revenue.
Modelling from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute estimates $30 billion to $60 billion could be wiped from the Australian economy because of international students being blocked.
The government’s road to recovery, released earlier this month, includes the possible return of international students as part of stage three.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said universities were welcome to put forward proposals for international student arrivals to restart.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said quarantine process for returning Australians had been effective and could be used to get international students arriving again.
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