Int’l Students Furious After Australian Gov’t Revoked Decision to Open Borders on December 1

Australia

After waiting almost two years to return to their studies, international students, who were supposed to begin their in-person classes by December 1, will have to wait for another two weeks, as the Australian government ordered a travel ban on foreign nationals due to concerns related to the new COVID-19 virus variant, Omicron. 

The new measure, which leaves thousands of students and workers hanging, was introduced by Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, in a bid to mitigate the further spread of the new variant and will be valid until December 15. As of now, five positive cases with Omicron have been detected in the country, Erudera.com reports. 

However, the act has been criticized by international students who claim that they spent thousands of dollars on flight tickets, which money is now lost, they say. 

“Other countries have stopped flights from those nine countries only, but our beloved Australia has banned literally each, and every country for god knows what reason. We’re heartbroken. Do you understand what this means for us?” a Twitter user that goes by the name Rini Dharva said.  

Moreover, some students have expressed their concerns about whether the money will be compensated, with one of them also adding that “You [Australia] have an extremely unstable and unreliable government.” 

Another Twitter user said that thousands of students had booked flights at inflated prices already, and the delayed reopening only one day prior to the flight added to their disappointment towards the matter.  

>> Australian States to Welcome International Students in December: What Should Returning Students Know?

As a result, the international students will continue to attend their classes online, a method that has proved to be highly ineffective. 

Oscar Zi Shao Ong, the national president of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), a not-for-profit and non-political organization, said they had received overwhelming feedback that online studies aren’t working. 

“Additionally, this is not what international students paid for. They paid for quality, face-to-face education. Further to that, onshore students would have received better support in terms of engagements and social events,” Ong noted, also pointing out a recent report that suggests international students’ mental health taking a toll was noted due to high infection rates with COVID-19 in their respective countries.  

Under the current rules, only permanent residents and fully vaccinated arrivals from New Zealand and Singapore are permitted to enter Australia.

The facilitation of entry rules planned for December 1 would have permitted fully vaccinated Japanese and South Korean citizens to enter Australian territory in addition to the eligible visa holders.

Furthermore, according to a study conducted by the education company IDP Connect, Canada has become the most popular destination for international students, being the choice of 39 percent of respondents, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom with 17 percent each. In addition, Australia was listed fourth on this list, with 16 percent of students choosing the destination as ideal to study at, despite being among the top educational destinations before the pandemic. 

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