Return to Australia: November 2021 updates for international students

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There can be plenty of confusion for international students looking for updates for their return to Australia as each state and territory have their own plans. Below is the return to Australia updates.

Western Australia borders

According to local reports, Western Australia could reopen its borders to a small number of international students in time for the start of the new academic year.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has reportedly met with the vice-chancellors of Western Australia’s universities and told them international students will be back in the classroom by the first semester 2022. They expect 5,000 fully vaccinated students to return.

New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia

A small group of international students are expected to return to New South Wales, Victoria and possibly South Australia in December.

A plan under New South Wales will see about 500 students returning to the state in December. A total of 120 students could begin returning to Victoria by the end of 2021 under the first stage of the Victorian Government’s Student Arrivals Plan.

South Australia is expected to welcome fully vaccinated domestic and international arrivals — including international students — with no quarantine period once 90% of South Australians aged 12 and above are fully vaccinated. It is expected that the 90% target will be reached in late December 2021.

Among the requirements for incoming international students include being fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccine and undergoing mandatory COVID-19 testing.

Queensland and ACT

Queensland announced that international students will return from January 2022. The Queensland Student Arrivals Plan will follow a phased approach, starting with 250 students per fortnight in Phase 1.

Following the successful implementation of Phase 1, opportunities for expansion will be considered in future phases, said Study Queensland.

The ACT government said they will welcome back international tertiary education students who are fully vaccinated with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccine for the start of the 2022 academic year.


Vaccinated interstate and international arrivals can enter Tasmania without quarantining from December 15, but no updates have been announced for international students. The University of Tasmania, for instance, notes: “We are working closely and actively with the Tasmanian and Australian governments to support the safe return of international students.”

They add: “In consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government is leading work to develop an International Student Arrivals Plan in line with the roadmap.

“Minimising risk and ensuring the safety of our students and the Tasmanian community will be central to the plan. Once finalised, the plan will be submitted to the Australian Government for endorsement.”

The university will contact students directly as soon as there is an opportunity for them to return to Tasmania.

Northern Territory

According to ABC News, international education minister Nicole Manison said the government was preparing to lodge a plan with the federal government. If approved, it could see up to two flights carrying a maximum of 180 students land in Darwin in January 2022.

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