Western Australia border restrictions to be lifted for a small group of students. Source: Trevor Collens/AFP

What’s the latest on WA border restrictions? According to local reports, Western Australia could reopen its borders to a small number of international students in time for the start of the new academic year. 

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has reportedly met with the vice-chancellors of Western Australia’s universities and told them international students will be back in the classroom by the first semester 2022. They expect 5,000 fully vaccinated students to return.

Study Perth said McGowan’s announcement paves the way for a potential return of international students in Western Australia from Semester 1 next year. The organisation has worked with the region’s international education sector to develop and update a plan for the safe return of international students.

“The plan has been revised and updated to ensure alignment with the National Plan to manage Australia’s transition to living with COVID-19.

“The StudyPerth team and member institutions are in regular contact with our counterparts in other states and territories regarding our respective plans. We share the nation’s ambition to restore safe pathways to Australia for international students as soon as possible and we are very much part of the national effort to make this happen.

“A Project Team has been actively consulting with the relevant State and Federal Government agencies, including the Western Australian Chief Health Officer, to address the preconditions for the safe resumption of international student arrivals in Perth. We remain committed to the safe return of international students and we aim to keep you up-to-date with all new developments.”

Current Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved vaccines include Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac and Covishield.

WA border restrictions to be lifted for a small group of students

Previously, reports said Western Australia will wait until as late as early-February to reopen its interstate borders in a move the premier says will save 200 lives. The premier has previously locked horns with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison over WA border restrictions. The state’s roadmap to reopen borders would see international and domestic arrivals return once the state hits a 90% vaccination rate. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said not opening up at an 80% vaccination rate not only has poor health outcomes but poor economic ones. Sky News reported that Flight Centre boss Graham Turner was reportedly threatening legal action against WA’s closed borders.

WA border restrictions

A total of 5,000 fully vaccinated students could return. Source: Trevor Collens/AFP

Some Twitter users have expressed skepticism over the lifting of WA border restrictions. One user, Lifeislikebaseball, tweeted: “Good luck with that. It’s now Nov. You really think Int’l students haven’t made plans for next year already?”

The state government notes the following about WA border restrictions: “Western Australia is expected to safely welcome more international arrivals from Nov. 20, 2021, when it is expected 70% of the population will be double dose vaccinated. The international arrival cap will then double — to 530 per week.

“All international arrivals directly into WA must quarantine in a state-run hotel facility for 14 days at their own expense. International travellers are subject to mandatory COVID-19 tests on the day following their arrival in WA, on day five and 13 of quarantine. Once travellers have left quarantine, they are subject to COVID-19 testing on day 17 and 21 after their arrival in WA.”

Health Minister Roger Cook said, “As our vaccination rate continues to rise, we will be able to make further adjustments to our border controls — as outlined in WA’s Safe Transition Plan. We all want to return to the way of life before COVID-19 — and vaccination is our way out of the pandemic.”