NSW proposes plan to bring international students back

The return of students could begin in the second half of the year.

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A NSW Government plan announced today could see international students coming back to the state.

For beleaguered international students, who have been paying full fees for a service that is far from full, and a downturn in mental health, this news must come as some respite.

The students’ Twitter storms to university and government leaders seem to be paying off – alongside pickets outside the Australian high commissions in their capital cities, and missives to local community agencies.

In a plan proposed by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and submitted to the Federal Government for final review, international students from select countries may finally be welcomed back in batches.

The return is planned over the second half of this year.

“We’ve developed a pilot plan supported by NSW Health and NSW Police that enables 250 international students to come to Sydney per fortnight from mid-year, in a gradual approach that will enable us to closely manage the process and ensure community health is not compromised,” the Minister said in a release today 10 June.

The pilot plan is aimed initially at a limited number of students from a range of countries who will come to purpose-built student accommodation, adhering to the same quarantine requirements as all incoming travellers.

NSW Health would triage arriving students and direct them to quarantine at specially approved student accommodation at no cost to taxpayers.

The first of these sites has been chosen, with contract negotiations well advanced.

The international student allocation will be in addition to the current number of returning Australians allowed into NSW each week.

“This won’t come at the expense of returning Aussies. We will continue to bring back 3,000 people per week – well more than any other state,” Mr. Perrottet said.

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Source: Canva

The return of the students it is hoped, will help kick-start the billion-dollar industry. 

It comes as news filtered out that international students had begun to consider other education destinations over Australia. 

Mr. Perrottet said international students are a vital missing piece in the State’s economic recovery, with the sector worth $14.6 billion in 2019.

“International education is our second most valuable export and we need to do what we can to help students return and revive this sector as quickly as possible,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Typically, we have more than 250,000 international students studying in NSW each year and they directly supported over 95,000 local jobs prior to the pandemic. If we don’t act fast, students will turn to other overseas destinations and it could take the sector decades to recover.

Professor Barney Glover AO, on behalf of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, welcomed the State’s approval of the Program after working collaboratively for several months to commence the safe return of international students to NSW.

“As at May this year, there were many higher education students diligently studying offshore – many of whom expect to return to our campuses to finish their studies. This Program has carefully considered the personal, social and academic aspects of our students, to ensure they successfully resume their studies and re-join NSW’s vibrant, multicultural community as soon as possible,” Professor Glover said.

“We are excited to finally welcome back international students to experience the world-class education, training and research that makes NSW such an attractive destination for education.”

Council of International Students President, Belle Lim was happy to learn that the NSW Plan had been submitted for review.

“This sends a great message to international students studying online offshore that there is hope that things will return to normal again,” Ms Lim said.

“We are pleased to see the cautious approach but are hopeful the numbers of students arriving will scale over time. CISA strongly supports the detailed planning that has been done by NSW.”

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