by CLAIRE FIELD
It looks increasingly like we will see relatively large groups of fully vaccinated international students coming in to Australia in the first quarter of 2022
Dirk Mulder is right that, finally, there is light on the horizon for the international education sector (CMM September 20).
The evidence goes beyond Minister Tudge’s speech to the English Australia conference.
On September 9th the Prime Minister said “the federal government was working closely with the states and territories to make home quarantine the ‘primary and viable method’ in Australia.” Currently both South Australia and New South Wales are trialling home quarantine for returning residents, freeing up hotel quarantine slots for international students.
And, on October 1, Committee for Economic Development of Australia, is hosting an on-line event with Michael Outram, the Head of Border Force to discuss the reopening of the international border.
While reopening the border hinges on vaccination rates and then how well NSW and Victoria progress with their lifting of restrictions (and the resulting impact on their hospital systems), it looks increasingly like we will see relatively large groups of fully vaccinated international students coming in to Australia in the first quarter of 2022, at least in New South Wales, South Australia and possibly Victoria and the ACT, with high enough vaccination rates.
The issue then of course will be the need to recognise a broader range of vaccines than those which currently have approval in Australia, and to develop “red” and “green” lists of countries (as Minister Tehan alluded to recently).
The Commonwealth announced last week that Accenture is building the new platform for the Digital Passenger Declaration form to be used by all travellers. The new DPD will replace the hard copy passenger arrival form and will include COVID vaccination and COVID test details. Accenture is apparently in the testing phase and the digital form will then be deploying “at scale” to major Australian airports.
Returning to the English Australia conference, the senior public servants who presented should also be congratulated for their presentations, including sharing sensitive advice to assist providers in their future student recruitment, details of the work underway to prepare for the large increase in student visa applications when borders open, and to urge providers to encourage students to start submitting applications to avoid the inevitable backlog.
Now we cross our fingers, wait and hope.
Claire Field is an adviser to the tertiary education sector