“Return of International Students on Dec. 15, a Step in the Right Direction”

Australia Oceania COVID-19 International Studies by Erudera News Dec 09, 2021

international students airport

Fully vaccinated international students were expected to return to Australia and resume their in-person classes by December 1, 2021; however, due to concerns related to the new COVID-19 virus variant, Omicron, their return has been postponed to December 15.

Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Andrew McKellar, said that Australia should return international students and skilled migrants on December 15, and such a decision, according to him, would be “absolutely a step in the right direction.”

He stated that the delay has interrupted international students’ plans who already booked their flight.

“We understood what the government had to do there, we think it was prudent, but all the signs are positive, and we need to get international students coming back in, we need to get some of those skilled migrants coming back in and eventually we need to have tourists and business visitors coming in,” McKellar told Sky News Australia.

Meanwhile, Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt also told Sky News Australia that there aren’t any guarantees that the country will open for visa holders and international students by December 15, pointing out that the government is planning to open that period, however the final decision will depend on the international evidence.

International students have criticized the government about the delay, arguing that they have lost thousands of dollars on flight tickets. These students have described the Australian government as an “extremely unstable and unreliable government,” at the same time, they have expressed concerns if they will get their money back.

Nevertheless, some international students will still be able to return to Australia under International Student Arrivals Plan. Under the New South Wale’s pilot plan, 250 international students returned to Sydney on December 6, and another group of students is expected to touch down in the country on December 24.

Prior to their trip, the government required students to be vaccinated with vaccines recognized by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and informed the latter that they will still have to complete quarantine after returning to NSW.

Due to Australia’s strict border rules, many international students enrolled at country’s universities have considered other study destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or Canada.

“For one year after that, I waited for Australia to reopen its borders to international students. I deferred my course twice,” Sakhawat Alee, who was a student at Sydney’s Macquarie University, told SBS News, adding that in 2021 he began studies at the University of Bradford in the UK.

Australian borders have been closed since March 20 last year, and since then, international students have expressed concerns about their studies, constantly urging authorities to allow them to return to the country.

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