border restrictions
Will Queensland’s borders be reopening soon to international students, or will border restrictions remain? Source: PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP

Could Queensland’s border restrictions be easing soon? That’s one likely possibility as a plan to bring international students back to the state is almost finalised, according to the Brisbane Times.

The report said over 1,000 international students will be allowed into South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory this month as part of two pilot programmes endorsed by the federal government. A similar arrangement in Queensland is reportedly almost ready.

A spokesman for Kate Jones, Ministerial Champion for International Education, was quoted saying by the report that the industry was “vital to Queensland’s economic recovery”.

“Study Queensland continues to work closely with the federal government and industry to ensure the international education sector can get back to business as soon as possible,” he said.

The spokesman said the government was finalising a plan to allow international students back into the state, which will “be considered by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer and approved by the federal government”.

queensland border restrictions

This photo taken on May 19, 2020 shows Paul Campbell (C), the owner of the Elios Osteria Italian restaurant, attending to customers at his establishment in Brisbane as the country slowly returns to business. Cafes and restaurants will be able to serve up to 50 people at a time from June 1 in Brisbane, as the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to decline. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the programmes could only go ahead if interstate borders were open and face-to-face learning was restarted. 

Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk previously announced that the state’s borders will reopen from July 10 to all other states except Victoria.

If there are further outbreaks of community transmission elsewhere, Palaszczuk said the state government might review its decision, reported ABC News.

Queensland hosts the third-largest number of international students among all Australian states. 

One pilot programme will see about 350 international students at Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC) boarding a charter flight into Canberra and undergo 14-day quarantine before returning to campus.

South Australia has also announced its own plan — endorsed by the federal government — to bring in 800 international students, according to the Brisbane Times in a separate report.

Easing border restrictions vital to Australian universities and economy

In a public submission to a Queensland parliamentary inquiry, the University of Queensland (UQ) vice-chancellor and president Peter Høj wrote that in the immediate future, “it is critical to our economy to re-open some international travel”.

He wrote that UQ would welcome state government support for the proposed secure corridors for international students. Such a pilot would allow International students, as long-term visitors to their state, to return to their cities and campuses as early as July/August this year.

“UQ would of course work with the state government to support our students while they quarantine on arrival,” Høj wrote.

queensland border restrictions

A COVID-19 signage is seen at a vehicle checkpoint on the Pacific Highway on the Queensland – New South Wales border in Brisbane on April 15, 2020. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

China had previously warned its students to reconsider studying abroad in Australia, citing  alleged “multiple discriminatory incidents against Asians in Australia”.

Høj said a cooperative approach across the government and the higher education sector to manage the safe return of international students will assist in mending this perception. It would show that Queensland is a “welcoming and safe destination for all visitors from China and Asia more generally”.

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