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Australia: International students to return ahead of tourists

Australia's border updates
What’s the latest on Australia’s border updates? According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, tourists aren’t expected to return until 2022, but skilled migrants and students will be prioritised instead. Source: Olivier Douliery/AFP

What’s the latest on Australia’s border updates? International students in Australia have been locked out of the country for almost two years, but Australia is set to welcome them ahead of tourists. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that after Australians, the next priority would be skilled migrants and international students, said the Associated Press via ABC News. 

Australia isn’t scheduled to welcome tourists until 2022. He did not specify when those groups would be allowed in, but was quoted saying: “We will get to international visitors as well, I believe next year.”

Many Australian universities have been hit hard financially by the country’s strict border closures. Morrison had previously outlined plans to allow vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to fly overseas from November, a month ahead of schedule. Morrison had previously said in a statement that the government is setting out the framework for how international travel will look in the coming months. 

AUSTRALIA'S BORDER UPDATES

China’s Sinovac and India’s Covishield have been recognised in Australia, sparking hope for international students’ return to Australia. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Australia’s border updates: Vaccines, pilot plans

Vaccinations

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) — Australia’s drug regulator — considers China’s Sinovac vaccine a “recognised vaccine” for incoming travellers. The agency also considers Covidshield AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India as a “recognised” vaccine. 

These vaccines are popular in countries such as China, India and Nepal, signalling that they could return to Australia with the recognition of these vaccines. Other vaccines approved by TGA include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The TGA has yet to recommend approving China’s other major vaccine, Sinopharm.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision by the TGA was a “major milestone” that would allow authorities to determine international travellers as being appropriately vaccinated.

Pilot plans

Pilot plans to facilitate international students’ return to Australia appear to be back on track. New South Wales will bring back some 500 international students from December 2021. Education partners involved in the pilot plan include Australian Catholic University, Macquarie University, The University of Newcastle, The University of Sydney, UNSW, UTS, University of Wollongong, and the Western Sydney University.

Victoria has also recently announced that it will be facilitating the return of a small group of students by the year-end. A total of 120 international students could be permitted to arrive in Victoria per week. Ultimately, these announcements on Australia’s border updates sound promising for international students hoping to return to Australia soon.

It was previously reported that major Australian airports are gearing up to facilitate the return of overseas travel. The Australian government is investing 64 million Australian dollars in international security screening requirements, reported International Airport Review.