WA Universities Furious With Border Closure, Say They Continue to Lose in Revenue From Lower Int’l Student Enrollment

Perth City, Western Australia

Western Australian universities are reporting a crisis and revenue loss due to the lack of international students following the state’s decision to keep its border closed.

Western Australia’s border was expected to open from February 5, 2022, but due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the state decided to postpone the decision, Erudera.com reports.

“The updated plan means the full border opening will be delayed given the full impacts of Omicron in Australia are still unknown, with peak infections not yet reached in jurisdictions with widespread transmission,” the Government of Western Australia notes on its website.

Universities are now expressing indignation over the decision, saying that it has caused distress among international students who were preparing to arrive and continue studies in Western Australia. According to them, international students might not choose to study in Western Australia again.

The sector claims that while WA universities continue to suffer loss in revenue due to lower international enrollment, other states which have opened their borders welcome international students who have been stranded abroad.

As the Guardian reports, over 30 percent of all international students pursuing studies in WA universities remained outside the country at the end of 2021. The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) said that many students arrived in Australia, but the latter are stranded in eastern states.

“Staff and students alike are understandably disappointed by the recent decision to indefinitely delay the planned reopening. They deserve a concrete roadmap to plan their safe return to WA’s universities, just as their peers have had in other states and territories,” the chief executive of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, told the Guardian.

Under the new hard border, the state allows some approved travelers to enter, but the latter should comply with testing and quarantine rules under the new expanded exemption criteria. These groups include:

  • Returning Western Australians – who have strong connections or direct legitimate family connections with WA.
  • People who enter on compassionate grounds, including funeral, palliative care, or terminally ill visits.
  • Family members of an approved traveler.
  • People who must enter the country for urgent medical treatment.
  • People who must enter for national and state security reasons.
  • Commonwealth and State officials, Members of Parliament, Diplomats.
  • Health and emergency service workers or specialists with skills not available in the state.
  • People who must attend court matters, judicial officers and court staff, tribunals and commissions.
  • People who should enter for special considerations and extraordinary circumstances – approved by the State Emergency Coordinator or Chief Health Officer.

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