Open and quickly closed window for student arrivals

There was rejoicing in the international education community Friday, just not for long

New NSW premier Dominic Perrottet announced Friday the state would welcome fully vaccinated overseas arrivals. The policy was in place for a couple of hours until Prime Minister Morrison pulled political rank, explaining that while the state government can change quarantine rules it is the Commonwealth that decides who enters the country. And for now, “the Federal Government is not opening it up to anything other than Australian citizens and residents and their immediate families.”

The political problem with the Perrottet plan is that if arriving international students were blamed for any spike in COVID infections Mr Morrison would be blamed.

The practical problem is how to assess and administer arrivals vaccinated elsewhere.

The Commonwealth will accept vaccines from China and India – which goes a way towards opening to students. The problem is evidence of vaccination on arrival. Back in March Education Minister Alan Tudge said work on vax passports was starting (CMM March 29) and on October 8 he told an international education industry conference said there will be a travel vax certificate for outbound Australians this month, “which will be expanded to authenticate vaccination certificates issued by other countries.”

Which will not encourage Australians who has been lost in the labyrinth of Commonwealth vaccination certification.  A system that meshes Australian systems with evidence from other countries will take time to get right.