International students may be the first cohort of international travelers that will be exempt from Australia’s current travel ban according to the latest three-step process for exiting lockdown that PM Scott Morrison has outlined.
The new public announcement to this effect means that from July, international students may be able to enter the country, as long as strict quarantine rules are observed.
“Issues of international students, you’ll note that it does come into the third step of the [exit] plan, that is a possibility,” said Morrison. “We are open to that, and would be working with institutions to see how that could be achieved.”
He said issues of costs regarding maintaining the quarantine set-up were being explored. “How that’s done and how those costs are met.. there’s a lot of steps to work through,” he said – adding “We’re open to everything pretty much to get the Australian economy back and firing again as much as possible. We’ve just got to step through it carefully.”
With international education worth AU$40 billion per year to the economy, there have been many calls for Australia to move to protect its industry.
Julian Hill MP, writing in The PIE News, called for Australia to follow Canada’s lead: “If Canada can admit students, subject to strict quarantine and health checks, then we can too,” he said.
Universities Australia welcomed the move: CEO Catriona Jackson said, “We welcome the inclusion of international students travel down the track, in step three [of exit plan].”
“We are keen to welcome all our students, from home and abroad, back to face-to-face teaching, but when it is safe to do so.”
Ravi Lochan Singh, president of AAERI, told The PIE that this was welcome news. “I don’t expect Indian students to be ready to join the July/August intake as Indian academic calendar is disrupted,” he commented.
“However several universities do operate a third intake in November and so institutions with an intake in October/November could see some fresh enrolments from the Indian region. This is really good.”
Lochan Singh pointed out that quarantine-led entry would also benefit international students with visas who are currently stuck outside Australia.
Australia’s exit plan has Stage 1 – local and regional travel allowed while 10 visitors in the home, business or public places advised; Stage 2 – some interstate travel allowed while visitor limit increases to 20 in-home, business or public places; Stage 3 – gathering size increased to 100 and cross-Tasman, pacific island and international student travel allowed.
“Today, we move ahead with reopening our economy and our society, with a clear plan, and a clear framework, that shows Australians the road ahead,” Morrison said on May 8. Experts and the government will review progress every three weeks.
“There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan … But we cannot allow our fear of going backward from stopping us from going forwards,” said the PM.
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