International students returning to Australia
Adelaide in South Australia will kickstart the pilot programme to reinvigorate the nation's international education sector. Source: Nel Botha/Pixabay

Last week, we learned that 300 international students will be returning to Adelaide in September amidst tightened state border controls. Now, the South Australian government is unable to confirm if these students will come from countries with high COVID-19 risk. Specifically, “no decisions have been made” about where they will come from, said South Australia Premier Steven Marshall.

Marshall, however, assured that the government is finalising plans to welcome international students returning to Australia. They are still monitoring the outbreak in top feeder countries, as well as in Australia. Besides finalising the list of countries they will be coming from, the government also has to decide on the exact dates these students will be flown in.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham previously assured that everything will be done with “the utmost safety requirements in place.” He elaborated, “We have successfully demonstrated, particularly states like South Australia, that they can return Australians from all corners of the world, safely quarantining them, and provide no exposure to the South Australian community in that process, so the same cautious and careful approach is being brought to bear when it comes to international students.”

International students returning to Australia

Australian residents wave from a hotel balcony in Adelaide where they are undergoing mandatory 14-day quarantine. International students returning to Adelaide must do the same. Source: Brenton Edwards/AFP

International students returning to Australia amidst tightened border control

Adelaide in South Australia will kickstart the pilot programme to reinvigorate the nation’s international education sector. Yet, everyone apart from essential workers, some farmers and Year 11 and 12 students will not be allowed to enter South Australia from Victoria starting Aug. 21, 2020. Other state borders also remain shut as COVID-19 cases are still at a worrying level. This includes Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.

It was previously reported that international students returning to Australia are expected to come from Southeast Asia — particularly China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore — via a flight from Singapore. Once in Adelaide, they must complete a two-week quarantine before returning to campus. Their universities have agreed to bear the costs of this quarantine.

Only 130 international students arrived in Australia between March and June 2020, while 22,280 left the country. This has left the country’s higher education sector in a lurch as administrators devise new ways to bring international students back safely.

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