The Prime Minister also announced new travel bubbles with Japan and South Korea. The decisions follow the opening of a two-way travel bubble with Singapore on Sunday, allowing students, families and migrants to return to Sydney and Melbourne. Returning visa holders must be double vaccinated and have proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travelling.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said: “This is great news which will give heart to more than 130,000 international students with visas waiting to return to Australia. They want nothing more than to re-join their classmates in Australia.”
“We look forward to further detail so we can work quickly to get students back for first semester next year.”
Currently New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and South Australia have pilot plans approved by the Commonwealth Government for the return of international students. The Queensland Government has also lodged a pilot plan to the Commonwealth Government for approval. The first of these special flights, organised by New South Wales and ACT universities, arrives in Sydney on 6 December.
Returning students have to adhere to state and territory quarantine rules, but we are seeing an increasing trend towards no quarantine for fully vaccinated students.
“Universities continue to work to ensure the safety of all students as they slowly return to campus,” Ms Jackson said.
Commencements in the higher education sector have declined by more than 40 per cent since the peak recorded in August 2019, with new starters now falling to just above the level recorded in August 2013.
“The value of international students to Australia is more than just the impact they have on the economy and employment, though their $31 billion annual economic contribution and support for 250,000 jobs is important,” Ms Jackson added.
“These students are the future corporate and political leaders of our nearest trading partners. They make an enormous contribution to Australia’s influence in the world.”