International students can return to Australia before state borders reopen: report

return to Australia
International students in Australia will no longer have to wait for individual state borders to reopen to return to Australia. Source: SAEED KHAN /AFP

The federal government will no longer require individual states to reopen their internal borders before allowing international students to return to Australia, reported the Australia bureau of The Guardian.

Previously, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all state and territory borders would need to be opened in order for international students to enter the country.

However, the on-going situation in Victoria is different and requires a “ring of containment” as per the state government lockdown initiative. 

Victoria’s capital Melbourne is under another movement control after a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The lockdown starts from 11:59p.m. on Wednesday, 8 July, and is to last six weeks.

At the time of writing, most universities in Melbourne have yet to announce how they plan to respond to the latest lockdown measures.

The report added that Australia’s Minister for Health and Sport Greg Hunt said the federal government accepts that state border closures with Victoria are necessary given the rising cases of COVID-19 in the state. 

Switching gears

Previously, an education department spokesperson told The Guardian that preconditions for the return of international students “include the reopening of internal state and territory borders within Australia, as well as the return to on-campus learning for the benefit of domestic students and the international students who are already in Australia”.

“Robust health, quarantine, border and provider protocols also need to be in place,” the department said. “There is no fixed timeline for the return of international students,” they concluded. 

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast on Tuesday, Hunt said the federal government accepted the need for “rings of containment” in suburbs, regions such as north-west Tasmania, or a whole state “when it’s required.”

In speaking about the challenges facing Victoria, he said that the “ring of containment” was difficult but necessary because although the “very serious outbreak” is particularly concentrated in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, it is “not exclusively confined to them”.

The Guardian’s Australia desk understands that the federal government will now not insist that states and territories reopen their borders to Victoria as a condition for approval of pilots, said The Guardian.

What international students should know about returning to Australia

return to Australia

According to reports, the border between NSW and Victoria has closed for the first time in a century. Source: SAEED KHAN/AFP

The spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria brings plenty of uncertainty to international students in the state. Despite that, its border closure will not prevent international students from returning to other areas through pilot programmes, as reported by SBS News.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is planning to bring in about 350 international students at Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Canberra (UC) this month. Students will board a charter flight into Canberra and undergo 14-day quarantine before returning to campus.

The ACT has not banned travel from Victoria but will impose a two-week quarantine on anyone travelling from the state.

South Australia also has plans to bring in 800 of their international students.

Meanwhile, The Australian has also reported that the federal government is considering granting graduate work rights to international students who are forced to remain overseas and study online because of the pandemic.

Currently, international students are only entitled to post-study visas if they undertake their course in the country.

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