Another border could open soon for international students: Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrisson announced that the federal government is considering a travel exemption to allow international students into the country from as early as July 2020.
On Monday, Australia recorded a two-month low in COVID-19 cases with no new infections in the country and restrictions slowly easing. In some states, residents are now allowed to leave the house for recreational purposes and gather in groups of no more than 10 people.
Australia’s three-stage plan
The first stage of the three-stage plan to Australia would see the lifting of restrictions on restaurants, cafes, shops, libraries, community centres and playgrounds, and allowing up to 10 people to gather in public.
The following stage will allow gatherings of up to 20 people, community sports activities and some interstate travel. Gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries, amusement parks can reopen too.
‘That is a possibility’: Australia’s borders open to international students
By July, Morrison wants Australia to start stage three, which will let most people go back to offices, pubs and nightclubs, as well as have gatherings up to 100 people and full interstate travel.
During this stage, international travel to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will also be allowed — along with some exemptions for international students.
Morrison said, “Issues of international students, you’ll note that it does come into the third step of the plan, that is a possibility.”
“We are open to that, and we would be working with institutions to see how that could be achieved. But it must be done according to those strict quarantine restrictions and how that’s done, and how those costs are met.”
He said the government has yet to finalise the specifics. Moving towards the third and final stage of the framework will only be done if “strict quarantine restrictions were met,” SBS reported.
Canada have allowed international students to enter, subject to quarantine and screening requirements, but Australia has closed borders to foreigners since March 19.
Previously, Morrison said that international students stranded in Australia should return home if they have lost their jobs and cannot support themselves through lockdowns.
Why Australia’s borders should reopen to international students as soon as possible
International students contribute AU$40 billion a year to the Australian economy.
With borders and campuses close, the country is set for huge losses in tuition revenue from international students, who pay significantly higher fees compared to their domestic peers.
International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood has been calling for the reopening of Australian borders for international students, as they could offer more than just economic benefits.
He told SBS News, “International education is Australia’s fourth-largest export industry which generates nearly 240,000 Australian jobs and is a key revenue source for public universities and many other private education providers.”
“This dynamic industry brings in close to AU$40 billion as well as numerous soft power diplomatic benefits. We have to do as much as we can, within the health guidelines, to open this industry back up for Australia’s future.”
He also said that reopening Australian borders to international students could give the country a “step up on the competition” in the international education market against Canada, the US and the UK for future overseas enrolments.