Australia pilot programme
Here’s what we know so far about Australia’s first pilot programme to welcome back international students to Australia. Source: David Gray/AFP

Charles Darwin University (CDU) is slated to be the first university to welcome back international students to Australia under a pilot programme. The first batch of foreign students is expected to return to Australia on Nov. 30, 2020, according to details on the university’s website, later than previously announced. “CDU is hopeful that following the success of this initial pilot that CDU will be able to welcome more students to Darwin and CDU in 2021. However, this has not been confirmed at this stage,” said the university.

CDU previously announced in October 2020 that the scheme was approved by the Australian and Northern Territory governments and will see up to 70 international students arrive in Darwin from Singapore in late October in time for the next intake on Nov. 9, 2020. International students in this pilot programme are expected to be the first group allowed to enter Australia since it closed its borders in March due to COVID-19. This will also make the Northern Territory the first jurisdiction in the country to welcome back international students.

Here’s what we know so far about the pilot programme:

Who is eligible for the charter flight to Australia?

CDU said in its CDU’s charter flight FAQ that they can bring a limited number of students to Darwin and will be in contact with students if they are eligible. “Students will be required to have an international student visa and be students of CDU,” the university said.

When can students expect to return to Darwin?

The flight will depart Singapore on Nov. 29, 2020, and will arrive in Darwin on Nov. 30, 2020. Students must have a study visa prior to joining the flight to Darwin, along with a passport valid for at least six more months.

Who will pay for the charter flight?

Students are expected to pay for the flight. They will be sent some paperwork and a payment link. The flight is not transferable.

What do students need to do prior to boarding the flight?

International students will need to complete two online forms that they will need to print and bring with them in their carry-on luggage for Darwin airport. The first is a border entry form for entry into Australia — students should not sign the form until they are with an Australian Border Force officer upon arrival at Darwin airport. The second is the Howard Springs registration form.

Should students take a COVID-19 test before flying?

“Different countries have different regulations. CDU recommends that students check with the departure airport in their country for any COVID-19 testing requirements,” said the university.

What happens on arrival in Singapore and during transit?

Students can expect to have their temperature screened upon arriving at Changi Airport, Singapore. Those who are running a fever or are exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness will be attended to by medical staff. 

Transit passengers will be welcomed by an usher who will usher groups to a designated transit holding area which will contain complimentary WiFi, a snooze corner, food kiosks, vending machines, a smoking room and restrooms. Students must stay within this designated transit holding area at all times and must wear a face mask unless eating, drinking, or smoking.

How will students reach the quarantine facility upon arrival at Darwin?

International students will be required to quarantine at the Howard Springs facility on arrival; transport to the facility will be provided by the Northern Territory government. After two weeks, CDU will arrange transport for students to a range of central locations. 

During the quarantine, students can expect to have access to 24-hour counselling, receive care packages from CDU staff, in addition to daily phone calls from staff to ensure students are supported during their quarantine.