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Return to Australia: November 2021 updates for international students

western australia borders
Here are updates for international students' return to Australia, including Western Australia borders updates. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

There can be plenty of confusion for international students looking for updates for their return to Australia as each state and territory have their own plans. While New South Wales has announced that it will be bringing in a small group of international students from December, what about other states, including updates on Western Australia borders? Here’s what we know so far:

Return to Australia updates

Western Australia borders

What’s the latest on Western Australia border updates? According to The Guardian, 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. No announcements have been made regarding international students’ return to the state at the time of writing. 

The states’ premier Mark McGowan did not set a specific reopening date but said controls would be eased once the state achieved 90% vaccination for people aged 12 and above, which is expected to be reached by late-January or early-February.

A specific reopening date will be locked in once the state achieves 80% vaccination, expected in the first half of December, said the report. 

In response to Western Australia’s reluctance to reopen its borders, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said not opening up at an 80% vaccination rate not only has poor health outcomes but poor economic ones.

Updates on Western Australia borders haven’t been promising. The state’s premier Mark McGowan plans to lift restrictions once the state achieves 90% vaccination rate. Source: Trevor Collens/AFP

New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia

A small group of international students are expected to return to New South Wales, Victoria and possibly South Australia in December.

A plan under New South Wales will see about 500 students returning to the state in December. A total of 120 students could begin returning to Victoria by the end of 2021 under the first stage of the Victorian Government’s Student Arrivals Plan.

South Australia is expected to welcome fully vaccinated domestic and international arrivals — including international students — with no quarantine period once 90% of South Australians aged 12 and above are fully vaccinated. It is expected that the 90% target will be reached in late December 2021. 

Among the requirements for incoming international students include being fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccine and undergoing mandatory COVID-19 testing.

Western Australia borders

Updates on Western Australia borders suggest that international students are not expected to return early next year. Source: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

Queensland and ACT

Queensland announced that international students will return from January 2022. The Queensland Student Arrivals Plan will follow a phased approach, starting with 250 students per fortnight in Phase 1.

Following the successful implementation of Phase 1, opportunities for expansion will be considered in future phases, said Study Queensland. 

The ACT government said they will welcome back international tertiary education students who are fully vaccinated with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccine for the start of the 2022 academic year.

Tasmania

Vaccinated interstate and international arrivals can enter Tasmania without quarantining from December 15, but no updates have been announced for international students. The University of Tasmania, for instance, notes: “We are working closely and actively with the Tasmanian and Australian governments to support the safe return of international students.”

They add: “In consultation with a variety of stakeholders, including the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Government is leading work to develop an International Student Arrivals Plan in line with the roadmap.

“Minimising risk and ensuring the safety of our students and the Tasmanian community will be central to the plan. Once finalised, the plan will be submitted to the Australian Government for endorsement.”

The university will contact students directly as soon as there is an opportunity for them to return to Tasmania.

Northern Territory

According to ABC News, international education minister Nicole Manison said the government was preparing to lodge a plan with the federal government. If approved, it could see up to two flights carrying a maximum of 180 students land in Darwin in January 2022.