Vaccine passport, pilot plans: Australia’s latest developments for international students

latest news updates
Can’t keep up with all the updates? Here’s the latest news updates for international students in Australia. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Are you looking for the latest news updates for international students in Australia? A lot has happened in the past few weeks — from the announcement of the New South Wales pilot plan that would see a small number of international students returning to the state by the year-end to the development of a digital vaccine passport. Here’s a roundup of what you should know: 

Digital vaccine passport

Inbound travel is still on the cards. ​​​The Morrison government is preparing for the reopening of Australia to international travel with the appointment of Accenture to deliver the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD).

In a press statement, Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said: ​​“The DPD will support the safe reopening of Australia’s international borders, by providing digitally-verified COVID-19 vaccination details. This will help us to welcome home increasing numbers of Australians, and welcome the tourists, travellers, international students, skilled workers, and overseas friends and family we’ve all been missing during the pandemic.”

The DPD will provide the capacity to collect, verify and share any Australian government-approved and digitally-verified travel, health and vaccine status information of international travellers with state and territory public health authorities. The DPD will move into a testing phase before being deployed throughout major Australian airports.​​​

Latest news updates for international students Australia: NSW pilot plan

Latest news updates suggest international students can start returning to their education providers from as early as December 2021. The pilot plan will bring in some 500 international students. “Education providers will directly contact any students invited to return to NSW, providing them the information they require at every step of the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan,” said the state government. 

Costs associated with travel and quarantine will be borne by education providers, while returning international students can expect to cover flight costs. There are no latest news updates regarding the specific cost involved for returning international students in Australia, but it is expected to be communicated directly to students. “Returning students will be approached by their institutions based on a range of criteria and their individual situations,” said the website.


Currently, vaccines approved by TGA include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

International students Australia: Required vaccinations

International students with Sinovac, Sinopharm and Sputnik V jabs will likely be in a pickle if they plan to return to Australia. Vaccines recognised for travel into Australia will be those approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Currently, vaccines approved by TGA include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

The Australian government notes: “If you’ve had immunisations in another country, you can have them added to the AIR [Australian Immunisation Register]. You’ll need documents in English that show what immunisations you’ve had. Take these to a recognised vaccination provider in Australia.” They add, “We can only accept information directly from a recognised vaccination provider in Australia.”

Australian universities require vaccinations

Not all Australian universities have made vaccine mandates, but some, including the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and Monash University, have made jabs a requirement for anyone coming to campus. Other universities are reportedly still surveying students and faculty members about attitudes to jab mandates.