NSW ready to bring international students back

What happens next is up to the feds

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says 250 per students per fortnight could arrive from mid-year, “in a gradual approach that will enable us to closely manage the process and ensure community health is not compromised.”

Mr Perrottet adds international arrivals, “won’t come at the expense of returning Aussies,” would quarantine at “specially approved” student accommodation and “at no cost to taxpayers”.

Western Sydney U VC Barney Glover welcomed the plan on behalf of the NSW Vice Chancellors committee. He nominated priority students as those in, “desperate need to progress their studies,” specifying, medicine, science, engineering, teaching, nursing and midwifery, and postgraduate research degrees.

According to a University of Sydney announcement for its international students, those “who must undertake face-to-face learning to complete their degrees will be prioritised as part of this plan.”

Uni Sydney adds, “all costs will be managed by the university sector.”

Simon Finn from Independent Higher Education Australia says “students enrolled with independent providers will be able to return to Australia as the pilot progresses.”

The plan is now with the federal government. It follows a similar proposal from the SA state government and public universities, for a student quarantine facility at Parafield Airport, in suburban Adelaide, which was quickly opposed by the local council and federal member for Makin Tony Zapia (CMM May 31, June 3 and June 4).

Mr Perrottet did not mention the location of the “purpose-built student accommodation” in NSW.

The plan was a while coming. Last September NSW jobs and tourism minister, Stuart Roberts said lessons learnt from quarantining international arrivals meant the state could re-open “our international student markets sooner rather than later” (CMM September 24).

With props from SA and NSW there are now two balls in national education minister Alan Tudge’s court. Perhaps three, ANU’s chancellor Julie Bishop says, “we have a student return programme that would work. I am yet to convince my former colleagues in Canberra that it will work,” (CMM, yesterday).

Mr Tudge responded to the Perrottet proposal yesterday, saying it met the government’s criteria. However, and it was an “however” of Himalayan height, he added, “we will work through the details carefully. We are keen to see international students return to Australia, but we don’t want to risk further COVID outbreaks in Australia.”