Dirk Mulder on the big issue for international student arrivals

By Dirk Mulder

We need two things to kick-start international arrivals: political will and a model that makes their coming safe

Much of the world continues to open and then restrict their nationals’ movement without too much thought given to quarantining measures.

But some do.

While Singapore citizens, permanent residents and people with “long term passes” can travel there, they can apply to opt out of government quarantining by wearing an electronic monitoring device.  Hong Kong is also using the technology while other countries are deploying it with arrivals who might break quarantine.

The approach has issues – monitoring can be expensive and there are privacy concerns.

But as the chorus continues for bringing back international students to Australia surely all options must be on the table.

Not least because the chance to do it could be coming closer. The prime minister’s priority to get Australians offshore home should, all things being equal, be achieved by Christmas. More places in hotel quarantine and the states’ capacity to handle more arrivals goes some way to demonstrate borders can be managed.

However, this is not to mass international student scale –which makes electronic monitoring worth looking at.  Such as app-based goPassport, which is developed by Australians with backgrounds in travel, border security, medicine, education and real-time data management.

Developed in conjunction with ELICOS peak-body English Australia, goPassport seeks to provide a safe, scalable solution, using a risk-mitigation model that manages much of the health risk before the student boards their flight to Australia.

It works on five key elements:

* capturing the pathway – being able to ascertain information on where the student is coming from and pre-screening (for Covid-19) prior to embarking

* guiding compliance – being able to provide the individual with the clearest of information to ensure the student understands their responsibilities

* real time location-based activity monitoring

* an alert trigger –which can escalate quickly

* escalation – providing information on movement and contacts

They hope the model will have a sympathetic hearing from government, which ultimately will determine on a political level just how students may fit into a scenario which balances safety with cross border movement.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent