On Thursday, 10 June 2021, the NSW government announced that starting mid-year, 250 international students will be allowed to return to school every fortnight under a pilot program that will begin in the second half of this year.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in a statement, ‘The students will be required to quarantine on arrival and the quarantine will be purpose-built student accommodation following the same rules for all international arrivals.’ He added, “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”.
The state government stated that the universities would select foreign students based on ‘multiple criteria’ and their personal circumstances, with priority given to higher degree students.
The plan will be paid for by the industry, while the state government will provide governance and operational support. Council of International Students spokesperson Belle Lim said there was hope things would return to normal again. “We are pleased to see the cautious approach but are hopeful the numbers of students arriving will scale over time,” she said.
The plan will go to the federal government for review. Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said the plan “appears to meet the criteria we have set, but we will work through the details carefully”.
This news has provided some glimmer of hope to more than 47,000 international students outside of Australia who cannot travel to complete their studies. Whether or not the Federal government will approve the plan, time will only tell.