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Plans advanced to return international students to Australia

International students could avoid Australia’s 14 day quarantine if a digital declaration for Covid-19 vaccines is implemented, ministers and education experts in the country have suggested.

The council includes – from left to right – Kathleen Newcombe, Derek Scott, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Sen the Hon Michaelia Cash, the Hon Phil Honeywood, Janelle Chapman, Belle Lim, Prof Michael Wesley and the Hon Karen Andrews MP. Photo: CISA

The delivery of a new Australian Strategy for International Education is expected mid-2020

First proposed in October as part of a broader plan to digitise passenger arrival cards, the idea was again raised at a meeting of federal ministers and international education experts who gathered in the nation’s capital for talks on the future of the sector.

“Australia remains a destination of choice for international students”

The Council for International Education, made up of six federal government ministers whose portfolios include education, trade, multicultural and foreign affairs, employment, industry and science and technology, along with 11 education experts, met earlier this month to plan the rebuild and strengthening of the international education sector which is currently in crisis due to the pandemic.

The council also discussed strategies to demonstrate that Australian is “open for business” to international students and is an effective, trusted global partner of choice in international education.

Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs have been wiped from the higher education sector as a result of Covid-19, while governments and institutions have also come under fire for their treatment of international students both stranded in Australia and locked out of the country due to border closures.

The council acknowledged the challenges caused by the protection measures such as Australia’s ongoing international border closure, but said hope is emerging that Australia will again be able to welcome international students in 2021.

It is confident Australia’s track record will help in the recovery and has welcomed the plans already in motion to bring students back.

“Cooperation between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and the sector have advanced plans for the return of international students, when health conditions and quarantine capacity allow,” it said.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan echoed the council’s confidence.

“While Covid-19 has caused significant disruption to our international education sector, Australia remains a destination of choice for international students because of the high-quality of the education and lifestyle we offer, combined with our strong health response to the pandemic,” he said.

“Australia’s latest economic data and the development of Covid vaccines are further reasons to be optimistic about the future of international education.”

So far only one university has welcomed back a small number of students, Charles Darwin University bringing 63 students into the Northern Territory under a pilot program approved by the territory and federal government, with South Australia receiving approval to bring a limited number of international students back in early 2021.

Other states – such as Victoria – have published recovery plans for their respective international education sectors.

The council is also looking at longer term strategies, commencing consultation on a new Australian Strategy for International Education, led by its expert members from February 2021, with delivery of the new strategy expected mid-year.

“We must be prepared for more focus on offshore, online and blended learning”

Tehan said it reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to working with the education sector to develop the long term plan, and the council agreed Australia must be ready to seize future opportunities by charting a path for the international education sector for the next 10 years across education, research and training.

“We must be prepared for more focus on offshore, online and blended learning, and a growth in new models of delivery – such as micro-credentials,” he said.

The communique from the council’s fifth meeting is available here.

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64 Responses to Plans advanced to return international students to Australia

  1. Australia needs to sober up a little. Such stiffness will ultimately break such students are getting diverted to other countries… The world knows…. Students may or may not need Australia… But Australia definitely needs us.

  2. After aggressive tirades against the Chinese this ignorant Federal govt is trying to lie it’s racist outbursts in th eir blatantly biased way against the Chinese.The increase in racist behaviour by ignorant Australia is ample evidence of this political manoebe by Morrison in particular.

  3. Please allow indian international students . We are waiting. For along to reopened the borders of Australia . There is a big loss of international students .

  4. Plzz open the borders for indian students,we are waiting for long time period,also big loss of economy as well as studies


  5. Australia ought to have considered the huge loss to their economy, and people needs to know that Australia is filled with diverse culture and not just indians…

  6. It’s not reliable country as well as the government….they are not sure what they gonna do…every week they change their could they plan something when they don’t stick on one thind….first we decide something and then work on it to make it done …but with this country it’s totally opposite it’s look like they hv lost their mind. Their internal disputes hv impacted badly. They are on agree on eachother s suggestions or statement. STUDENTS MUST NOT APPLY FOR AUSTRALIA ON FIRST PLACE BECAUSE NO ONE KNOWS WHATS GOING IN THEIR MIND….those who have already applied they have still chance to switch for better options.

  7. Please open the borders for Pakistani students.We are waiting for almost 10 months. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
    Australian Govt should allow international students to come in to lift their economy.

    • Do it quickly as u think because they are not thinking about international students. Morrison government only need money and international pupils provide them to have enjoy

  8. Internation boarders should be reopened now .It has created a big loss for international students like us. I am granted visa for M.IT at the university of wollongong from Nepal

  9. It’s such a black box how the Universities and Gov’t are approaching the return of international students. It changes each week, and it’s incredibly frustrating. They really did not think through all the ways students will be affected by prolonged external enrollment. They’re leaving the international students to shoulder the burden for their poor planning. I agree, there are other countries that value the economic, cultural, and intellectual contribution of international students (even during a pandemic).

  10. There’s a simple way on how to handle international students. Go through 14 days quarantine that’s it. Everything will be good

  11. The people who plan to start their education in Australia should think twice and consider Canada as a better destination

  12. Australia need to allow international students from jan 2021 otherwise students will go to Canada UK and USA. Then it’s effected on aus economy. The people who living in australia Or already studying in australia they tell their family members, friends and relatives not come to Australia because of aus border closure. The thing is why aus immigration approving visa, giving admissions if they are not opening borders? Is this going to fraud with future students? Australia must look at Canada they opened borders in October. They gave priority to international students. Because Canada know international students are big part of cad economy. You can start with pilot program and quarantine plans as Canada uk did. Thanks 🙏

  13. Australia should give a firm decision considering the situation of the international students. The pandemic has caused an effect to the whole world but bring a stay to the career of students is not the solution. Final announcement for the flights and borders should be given so that students can take wise decision. The government should think equally for the international students.

  14. I dont know what morrison govt is doing it had been last 10 months he is not bringing back international students.” Hats of to the canadian govt Mr Justin Trudeau who has done a great job and helped international students a lot and look at Morrison what he did such a bad and foolish person he is

  15. I see Canada has a less draconian approach. It seems pretty much impossible to return a 15 year old to his boarding school in Australia. Too many spanners in the works. Will go where flexible attitudes prevail.

  16. I’ve been reading news from Australia and the ones that spread the virus are the interstate travellers. That’s because they don’t quarantine themselves for 14 days. They don’t wear masks and they are allowed to have gatherings again. It is less likely that we international students will be the spreader because we will not be allowed to board any flight without a negative swab test and then we will be strictly quarantined in Australia before we get released. We are not the problem so please include us in your plans. I understand that your prioritues are the Australians stuck in outside Australia but you encouraged us to study in your country, you accepted our visa applications, you took our money, you granted us visa, you gave us so much hope, so why ignore us now? Please hear us. We are important too.. 🙁

  17. I have just finished High School in South Africa and planned to study at JMC Academy in Sydney from February next year. I have acceptance. Of course the academy has now suggested I rather go with the second intake in June 2021. But will that be possible? Or will I end up wasting the whole year waiting? Should I rather study somewhere else? I just don’t know!

  18. Had a scholarship from a University in Melbourne. And meanwhile processing this I got another scholarship from the USA and another from the Netherlands. Canada, the USA, Netherlands all are allowing students to enter the country but Australia not letting us enter. I lost those Netherlands and USA opportunities seem like now I am going to lose this Scholarship also due to Australia’s impractical approach during COVID19

  19. Don’t worry it is not just you students who are being affected by these closures. There is a large number of teaching professionals that are waiting for these borders to open, too.

    They talk about July being the time when students can come in, but by the end of March the Jobkeeper Program will end and with it the end of quite a large number of careers and there will be even more school closures.

  20. I am a Permanent Resident. Now I am in outside Australia for a long time. Could not possible for coming Australia due to COVID-19 condition. I am a PhD student of UTS, Australia. It is mandatory for me to come Australia. Otherwise my salary will be stopped. Please take the necessary steps for me. My family are also permanent resident of Australia

  21. They should allow indians students first because number of cases in india are just 1 crore out of total population circa 130 crores with only 3 lakhs cases and i thinks that there are more cases of other illness from that numbers. They should allow students as much as possible.

  22. students of July 2020 intake is still waiting to get onshore. Our allowed online units have completed. we need to get back asap to continue our studies especially those in the healthcare education field.

  23. Australia has to open its borders from the start of next year most likely in the end of january 2021 or at the start of feb 2021 and however lot of mine friends and international student’s also diverted to USA,UK,Canada due to their strict restrictions of border closure and if they still going with their damn border closure plan all of international students will also go to other countries**

  24. Australian gov’t is doing not actual work for international students. Australia should generate a proper plan as soon as possible so that student can come over there and make their career.
    If Gov’t is sleeping then student also started to get sleep (students started to change the destination for study (uk, canada, usa) and trend is also going on repadly ).

  25. The Australian government is not prepared to deal with the covid situation. The whole world is moving forward with the Virus. Everyone is accepting the situation and trying to become normal.
    But the Australian government imposes a lockdown on 5-10-15 cases. In this way, I don’t think they are going to open their borders in 2021.
    I would say… If you haven’t paid fees yet then please don’t pay later too.
    You will be trapped if you pay.

  26. Please open up Queensland Border to PNG Students to attend school as early as possible before the academic year begins this year 2021. I’ll be attending Queensland University of Technology this year doing my Bachelor of Engineering ( Honours). Completed my Year 12 at Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba, Queensland last year and in Papua New Guinea now. Hard to return due to border closure.

  27. I’m Kenyan and it’s really heartbreaking that the Australian borders are not opened for international students. As an international student yet to join the university is losing hope if they will reopen anytime soon. Hope they will consider to begin reopening as the COVID-19 is but a phase . We should trust it will end and just move on. May God give them the knowledge of understanding.

  28. If you had no plans of reopening your country why then did you grant us Visas? What did you want us to do with it?…its senceless!!…we are tired

  29. I think it is urgent for the Australian government to re consider the best approach to getting the vaccine available for citizens, non citizens and international student. This will afford the government the opportunity to revamp it struggling economy, I am a Nigerian and I gained admission to study Master in Business Administration so am looking forward to seeing lectures start. Also the immigration laws should be be reviewed inorder to allow foreign students feel free in Australia.

  30. It is imperative that Australia allows international students to return. I am in my third year, studying Veterinarian Medicine and my student loan doesn’t allow for a leave of absence. If I am unable to return I will have to stop my education and have incredible financial difficulties for the rest of my life having a loan without a career to pay it off with. The government is creating implications in these students’ lives, including my own, that will impact us for the rest of our lives and create immense hardship. Please open your borders, we understand you want to protect your country, but the world is now a global community and we all rely on each other.

  31. We international students are eagerly waiting for the reopening of border and we can understand that the pandemic have been seriously affected many countries but now the Australian government should think more wisely and most allow the international students .

  32. We are eagerly waiting to be there, we are paying a huge amount for studies and at the end we are getting online lectures. We didn’t signed up for this. Please allow us noe, it’s been almost a year.

  33. So many Australian citizens can’t even get back to Australia. There are thousands and thousands that have been abandoned abroad by the Australian Government. So don’t get your hopes up about them giving a damn about student visa holders making it there.

  34. We are eagerly waiting to be there, we are paying a huge amount for studies and at the end we are getting online lectures. We didn’t signed up for this. Please allow us noe, it’s been almost a year.

  35. Do not apply for visa yet, you may be required to do online studies if border still wont open and you end up paying the school from overseas. I’ve been waiting for a long time now and i used up almost 1 year of my visa i need to renew visa again in 2022 this is disheartening i should have applied to canada

  36. I got a scholarship for Master in the University of Queensland. I’ve been waiting for almost a year with no clarity. I’m thinking about dropping the scholarship contract, pay the huge penalty, and seek other countries instead. If they can prioritize themselves so do I with my future. Someday I might become someone important and I won’t forget how AU abandoned me during this pandemic.

  37. Plzz open the borders for indian students,we are waiting for long time period,also big loss of economy as well as studies


  38. I find it unjust to force international students to take the vaccine when it has not been fully tested. And there is no strong evidence to be sure it provide enough antibody against the corona virus.

    I still think quarantine is the safest way to make sure the coronavirus is not spread further. And regarding the vaccine Australian government could provide them upon arriving because there are so many vaccine but surely not all of them are approved.

    So why not just let the student arrive with a negative report and provide vaccine to them that has been approved by the Australian researchers. In my opinion this will be the best way in favour of both parties.

  39. Australia government is coward , and afraid too much about virus which is leading to decline their economy open border to international students which can uplift ur nation economy fastly….(Nepali students especially)

  40. Australia’s economy is ridiculously strong now. There is 1 (or 2) community cases in the whole country. These cases come every 2 or 3 weeks, and always from international arrivals (the quarantine system).

    So life is pretty nice now (especially compared to the northern hemisphere). All this means, the government will not rush the return of international students before there is widespread vaccine coverage.

  41. If Australian government doesn’t allow the international students then they most stop their colleges and universities for visa processing
    Students are still in hope that the Australian Government will open borders soon for them
    Don’t put student in hope and worry

  42. Australia should open there doors for students as it is high time now.
    They should allow students with covid negative report
    I myself waiting from past 10 months to reopen the borders of Australia.
    Atleast please give us the exact date of re-opening the border.
    If any news regarding opening of borders of Australia please contact me on my mail.

  43. Go for Canada and United States. They’re far better than Australian standards and economy. Australia is expensive.

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