Thousands of Fully Vaccinated Chinese Students to Return to Australia From December

Australia China

Ever since Australia closed its international borders on March 20, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s universities have seen a decrease in the number of international students, struggling to return those stuck abroad.

However, the number of Chinese student enrolments at Australian higher education institutions have remained stable even throughout the pandemic. According to data, a decrease of only two percent has been noted in the number of Chinese enrollments in 2021 compared to 2020, reports.

As of July 2021, there were some 140,786 Chinese students in Australia, while a year earlier, a total of 143,778 Chinese students enrolled at higher education institutions in the country.

As the Daily Mail reports, more than 80,000 Chinese students will be able to travel to Australia from December 1 for the first time after nearly two years. Figures show that 65 percent of 123,000 Chinese enrolled at Australian universities remain abroad.  

“We have high-quality institutions, an unmatched quality of life and competitive visas. I note that overall enrolments from China are down only 7.5% since 2019 when the average is 17%,” education minister Alan Tudge was quoted saying. 

Australia’s leading universities (Go8), have not reported any change in the number of international students as a result of the COVID-19, accounting for 70 percent of Chinese higher education enrolments and 73 percent of commencements.

Furthermore, Chinese enrollments at prestigious Australian universities have seen an increase of 6.4 percent in July 2021, compared to the same period last year.

After more than 600 days of being banned from entering Australia, international students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will finally be allowed to enter the country from next week, among them Chinese students.  

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back. It’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,”  Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Under Australia’s border arrangements, all travelers returning to the country by December 1 must:

  • be fully vaccinated with a vaccine recognized by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • hold a valid visa for one of the eligible visa subclasses
  • provide proof of vaccination
  • present a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test performed within three days of departure

Several Australian states will start welcoming small groups of international students in December, increasing the number in 2022. Under the New South Wales plan, a limited group of 250 international students is expected to return each fortnight to Sydney as of December 6, 2021.

According to Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson, international students contribute around AU$3.1 billion annually, from which some 250,000 jobs are also supported.

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