Not even near green for go on international arrivals

The Group of Eight wants a plan for when the lights change

The Group of Eight has taken the hardest cash hit from the exclusion of international students but has complained the least of the vocal lobbies, regularly announcing that universities must follow medical advice.

This is an embrace of reality – neither PM nor premiers is going to open-up to internationals while there is a risk of importing the pandemic. Plus, critics would be quick to complain if student were allowed in while Australians in numbers are still unwillingly offshore.

But the patience of the ever-astute Go8 chief executive Vicki Thomson wears thin.

There are plans in place for when universities get the green light, she told ABC  Adelaide Radio yesterday, but “frustration is creeping because we can’t even get the amber light.”

“The problem is we have so many layers we have to work through, health departments, education departments, state government quarantining and Home Affairs.”

There is always a piece of the puzzle that does not fit, “and that is what has been so frustrating,” she said.

“We completely understand where the federal government is in terms of health advice (but) it’s time to actually start the planning process.”

Ms Thomson pointed to the possibility of an international student transit hub in Singapore. And she mentioned ASEAN ambassadors, “who have a really strong commitment to getting their students into Australia,” keen to meet with government.

“There are lots of irons in the fire but it comes down to state and federal governments.”