International students returning to Australia have been plunging in and out of hope and despair as the country announced the reopening of its borders for December 1, only to delay the reopening by two weeks over Omicron concerns.
The border delay proved costly for many students who had already purchased their flight tickets and were uncertain if and how they could get a refund.
In an interview with Sky News Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Andrew McKellar said the return of international students and skilled migrants on December 15 would be a step in the right direction.
He added that the delay was disruptive for those who had made bookings.
“We understood what the government had to do there, we think it was prudent, but all the signs are positive, and we need to get international students coming back in, we need to get some of those skilled migrants coming back in and eventually we need to have tourists and business visitors coming in,” he said.
“So if we can get that happening on December 15 it will be absolutely a step in the right direction.”
International students returning to Australia: Uncertainty over border return
Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt said he isn’t making any guarantees Australia will reopen its border to international students and visa holders in mid-December.
“I’m certainly not making any guarantees,” Hunt told Sky News when asked if the pause on international arrivals would definitely end after December 15. “It’s our intention at the end of that period, subject to the science and medical advice, to return to the previous settings. It will depend on the international evidence.”
Filipino student Diana Olivar is among the international students who transferred from Australia to Canada following Australia’s prolonged border closure. “I grew anxious about my future and it came down to deciding whether I would wait or move forward,” she previously told Study International.
“I decided to apply to Canada two months ago and everything has been approved. I don’t regret anything.”
Despite delays in Australia’s border reopening, international students returning to Australia via state or territory International Student Arrivals Plan, and have been granted an exemption, will still be able to travel to Australia.Some 250 students touched down in Sydney on December 6 under New South Wales’ pilot plan. Another flight is scheduled to arrive in the country on December 24.