South Australia
South Australia has become the first state to have its international students arrival plan supported by the federal government, said South Australia Premier Steven Marshall. Source: Marshall Brenton Edwards/AFP

South Australia’s pilot plan to bring international students back to the state has been approved by the Australian federal government. State premier Steven Marshall confirmed the news in a press statement, adding that this makes South Australia the first state to have its pilot plan approved by the Commonwealth. International students will quarantine at facilities in Parafield Airport.

“International education is a significant part of South Australia’s economy, contributing over two billion Australian dollars in 2019, partly spent with our education providers such as schools and universities, and also providing a boost to our retail, hospitality and tourism sectors,” said Marshall.

“International students add so much to South Australia’s multicultural fabric along with the clear economic benefits for our CBD and our state overall, with every three students leading to the creation of one job — in 2019, almost 20,000 jobs were underpinned by international education, which is massive for our state.”

Marshall added that the health and safety of South Australians is their number one priority. “There is still more work to be done with the Commonwealth and education providers but it’s important to note that Professor Spurrier and her team at SA Health, along with South Australia Police, have been central to the formation of the plan, which meets all the necessary protocols required by the federal government,” he said.

Returning students to South Australia to quarantine at Parafield Airport

Marshall said that the plan will not impact returning Australians as it will be done outside the current caps, while institutions and students will bear the costs of flights and quarantine. Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson said this plan was the culmination of a great deal of work from industry stakeholders to deliver a safe and secure pathway for international students to return to South Australia.

“Industry has been key to this plan, and the South Australian community can be assured that expert advice from SA Health has informed the plan, in line with the same principles that has seen hundreds of seasonal workers arrive safely in South Australia,” said Patterson. “The Flight Training Adelaide site at Parafield has been approved for its ability to meet infection control as determined by SA Health, with the facility able to house 160 students who will complete their 14 days quarantine and undertake daily COVID-19 testing.”

One of the Commonwealth’s pre-conditions for when students arrive is that the state border must be open for domestic travel, noting the potential need for localised closures related to jurisdictionally defined COVID-19 hotspots.

In a statement, Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said: “We congratulate South Australia on becoming the first state set to safely welcome back international students in 2021. This follows last November’s pilot when 63 students successfully returned to Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory.”

“It demonstrates what is possible when health authorities, government, industry and our universities cooperate in achieving the safe return of students from low-risk nations – without taking spaces from Australians wanting to return from overseas. Historically, international students have played a significant role in the cultural and economic life of South Australia.”

Jackson said there are currently over 10,000 higher education students studying with South Australian institutions outside the country. “We want to welcome them back as quickly as possible so they can join their Australian classmates on campus. We hope to see more states and territories go down the same path as South Australia in the near future,” she said.