The international education market worth around $40 billion to the Australian economy has been in halt since the beginning of this year. The travel restrictions blocked nearly 120,000 international students from entering into the country. Now after almost an year of the coronavirus outbreak, universities are hoping to slowly allow overseas students to return early next year.
Therefore, Northern Territory and South Australia are set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to bring back international students. Adhering to Australia’s public health advice, Australian government authorities are working with universities and agents to develop small-scale pilot programs.
How NSW Plans to Bring International Students
In the absence of overseas students, NSW faces a $2.5 billion hit to its wider economy. In order to support the economy and the struggling universities, NSW is planning a quarantine program. This will eventually lead to 1,000 quarantine places being allocated for students and migrants each week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced. As per the negotiation, the federal government plans to bring back students in 2021. However, it is easier to speak but extremely hard to put into reality. It will depend on sustaining Australia’s performance w.r.t. flattening the curve of COVID-19.
Plan to Accommodate Returning International Students
The international students are definitely contributing significantly to the Australian economy. But, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated his stand to keep the Australian citizens stranded overseas at the topmost priority over other returning travelers. This could pose a possible delay in bringing more overseas students into the country for their education. The state’s initial capacity of 1,120 places per week would focus on returning Australian citizens or permanent residents, said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews.
The value and contribution of foreign students in the Australian economy is huge, however, quarantine capacity could possibly delay its ability to bring back international students soon. Presently, the Government is not thinking of any alternatives to the hotel quarantine scheme, such as on-campus isolation for students. Victoria is all set to resume with its hotel quarantine plan on 7 December. The capacity of putting people into quarantine will increase steadily over a period of time.
The revival of the Virus in South Australia
After a resurgence of two new COVID-19 cases in South Australia, the South Australian government announced a strict six-day lockdown. These recent cases shed an uncertainty upon the pilot program plan. The main idea behind this program is to fly back 300 international students into Adelaide from Singapore. But, these cases force the Government to re-strategize before taking that step. They need to ensure that all the precautions are taken before inviting students.
Considering the safety protocols, Australia is expediting its plan to boost up its education industry. The focus is on increasing the quarantine places and pilot programs for international students. Thus, there seems to be a clear signal of an early-2021 return for students. The road definitely seems highly unpredictable during these tough times. But, a ray of optimism is there after some vaccines trial runs getting successful in proving their safety and effectiveness.