Plans to return international students to NSW and Victoria

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NSW and Victoria have announced plans to return international students to these states.


The NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan to return international students to NSW has received support from the Australian Government and NSW Government.

The Pilot Plan will allow a limited number of 250 international students studying with NSW education providers to return each fortnight from early December 2021.

Under the pilot program, international students who return to Australia must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccination before landing in Sydney.

International students will quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation in Sydney and adhere to the same health and quarantine requirements set by the Australian Government for returning Australians.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro said the staggered return of students was stage one of a pilot that would slowly expand and evolve, as vaccination rates continue to rise in NSW and internationally.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the program was vital to the State’s economic recovery, creating jobs and restoring growth.

“International education plays an important role in connecting NSW to the world,” Mr Perrottet said. “As we implement a range of efforts to reboot our economy, rebuilding the sector – which was worth $14.6 billion to NSW in 2019 – is a key part of our efforts.”

Education partners including Australian Catholic University, Macquarie University, The University of Newcastle, The University of Sydney, UNSW, UTS, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University, plus independent providers the International College of Management Sydney, Kaplan, Navitas, RedHill and Study Group, have signed up to the industry-funded pilot plan.

Participating education providers will contact students to progress an expression of interest for the pilot plan.


Hundreds of international students are also set to return to Victoria by the end of the year after the state government approved a plan to revive the $14 billion international education sector that has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first instance, 120 international students a week will be permitted to arrive in Victoria and universities will cover the hotel quarantine costs of at least $5000, under a plan to be sent to the Commonwealth for approval by the end of the week, a senior government source said.

Victorian universities have been desperate to welcome foreign students and were increasingly frustrated with the state government’s lack of planning for the sector.

Under the scheme approved last week by senior cabinet ministers, international students could return by Christmas if the federal government approves the plan.

The state government will initially welcome university students, with TAFE and school students to follow. They will be housed in hotel quarantine – which normally costs $3000 for Australian residents – at a fee of at least $5000. The senior government source said universities would make individual decisions on whether to recoup or absorb the fees.

Ten vice-chancellors signed a letter of support for the government’s plans in recent days, although some in the sector were kept in the dark about the scheme, according to education industry sources.

Deakin University vice-chancellor Iain Martin said while the number of international students initially allowed to return was “small”, it would send the strongest signal yet that Victoria, and Australia, was opening up to the rest of the world.

“We are delighted there’s a plan and a path forward,” Professor Martin said.

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