Australia is hammering out the final details of two pilot programmes which will bring international students back to the country. Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge told SBS Punjabi that the Australian government is combing out the final details of the two initial pilots with Northern Territory and the South Australia governments, expressing the federal government’s willingness to revive and reopen the sector “in the not so distant future”.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) is set to be the first university in the country to pilot a programme to bring international students back to Australia since the country closed its borders in March due to COVID-19. CDU said the pilot has been approved by the Australian and Northern Territory governments and will see up to 70 international students arrive in Darwin from Singapore in late October in time for the next intake on Nov. 9, 2020. This will also make the Northern Territory the first jurisdiction in the country to welcome back international students.

South Australia’s pilot programme aims to fly back up to 300 international students into Adelaide from Singapore. A spokesperson was quoted saying, “Any pilot programme requires multiple approvals and the South Australian Government continues to work closely with all relevant parties to ensure international students are welcomed back to the state in a safe and responsible way that meets SA Health’s strict requirements. StudyAdelaide will work with the universities to assist international students to book flights once the proposal is approved.”

International students unable to return to Australia sooner due to “quarantine failures”

Nearly 200,000 of the country’s international students are stuck abroad, according to SBS Punjabi, of which about 6,600 remain trapped in India as they anxiously wait for the Australian government to relax travel restrictions.

Commenting on the delay in the launch of the student return plans that were supposed to roll out in July, Tudge blamed the “quarantine failures” in Victoria. He said Victoria hosts the most international students of all jurisdictions and “doesn’t have any quarantine beds at the moment so nobody’s coming into Victoria – no international students, no migrants, no Australian citizens.”

International students inject 39 billion Australian dollars into the national economy. “International students have been very good for Australia, they have been good for our economy and they have been good for our society because many international students stay and become fantastic citizens,” said Tudge.

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