Australia is pausing its pilot programme to bring 300 international students to Adelaide this month. According to Cruise1323, the plan is waiting for sign-off by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

State governments have raised concerns over their ability to host more than 4,000 returned travellers a week. Morrison is set to hold talks on this with state premiers this Friday — until then, the international student return plan lies on hold.

In August, we learned that 300 international students will be returning to South Australia in September amidst tightened state border controls. South Australia Premier Steven Marshall then said that the government is finalising plans to welcome these student returnees and monitoring the outbreak in top feeder countries, as well as in Australia.

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.”

No concrete details yet

It was previously reported that student returnees 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.

At the end of August, however, the South Australian government was still 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 Marshall.

Willing to quarantine and more

The majority of international students enrolled in Australia’s universities are still in the country. According to the Department of Home Affairs data, over half a million remain in Australian cities and communities as of Aug. 24, 2020, representing 78% of all student visa holders.

Those abroad are calling on the Australian government and their universities to let them return. Twitter user @kay232020 wrote: “Does Australia have any plans to let int students come back? we are ready to quarantine back home for 1 month and also quarantine when we reach! Let us come please!!!” Another Twitter user @ranjithkohli called for “mental relief,” tweeting: “Pls do something with international students and temporary residents who are unable to travel back to Australia, at least provide a timeframe so that we have some mental relief.”

With many away from Australia for months, they risk losing their study visa status. Twitter user @ammycheema5 wrote: “It’s been 6 months our visas are expiring plz let us come so we can extend our visas and live our life.”

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