return to Australia
About 300 international students are expected to return to Australia. Source: Marianna Massey/AFP

South Australia is scheduled to reopen its borders to 300 international students under a pilot programme in September, but Indian students will unlikely be part of that flight. According to SBS Punjabi, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell said Indian students won’t be part of the pilot programmes being considered by the federal and the state governments unless one of those plans propose direct access into India.

“I think the plan a few months ago was that students would congregate at hubs from all countries and jump on a plane to Australia,” said O’Farrell during a virtual convention organised by the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI) on Aug. 25, 2020. “And as I said regrettably, Malaysia and Singapore which are so critical for travel to Australia still haven’t opened their ports to Indian citizens.”

The High Commissioner said he would like to see the return of all students from South Asian countries, but the reality is that the participation of students from India is “largely logistical and determined by COVID-19.” He added that while it is possible that India will commence regular flights to other countries by mid to late September, there doesn’t seem enough certainty to plan a pilot for Indian students just yet.

International students return to Australia under strict measures

South Australia is part of a pilot programme to get international students to return to Adelaide. International students will go into mandatory hotel quarantine for two weeks before commencing their studies.

Speaking about the programme, Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham had previously said that it is “very important” for the country’s recovery from the pandemic, adding that international education is a huge services export industry for Australia and South Australia. “It underpins many thousands of jobs and it is important that we figure out how we can get international students back to Australia safely and appropriately,” said Birmingham.

At the time of writing, the South Australian government has yet to confirm where international students will come from and the exact dates for the flights. South Australia Premier Steven Marshall, however, assured that the government is finalising plans to welcome international students returning to Australia and are monitoring the outbreak in top feeder countries, as well as in Australia. 

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