After a gap of two years, the first batch of overseas students were allowed to fly to Australia since borders closed at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic
There was joy in the student community in Australia as more than 250 international students touched down in Sydney today. The group arrived as part of the two-way travel bubble between the Australia and Singapore.
The students were met by their respective university representatives and taken away to campus for their 72-hour self-isolation period. There is no need to quarantine as they are all fully vaccinated.
Students arrived from over 15 nations including those from Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Canada. This is part of the NSW government’s Pilot Plan which is a joint undertaking by the NSW government, Study NSW and all NSW universities.
International students all over the world have been affected by border restrictions and changed travel measures as countries grapple to contain newer strains of the virus. As and when new information about severity of the virus comes in, new measures are introduced, resulting in chaos and dilemma for students planning to study overseas.
On Sunday, Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said, “Universities have worked closely with government and health authorities for more than 18 months on plans to safely welcome back our international friends.”
“Around 130,000 international students remain outside Australia, and they are all very eager to re-join their classmates,” she said.
Even though these students were allowed to come back, all others will have to wait till December 15th to fly in. It had been earlier decided to welcome back all international students on December 1, but those plans got derailed due to the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron. The federal government announced on November 29 that in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant, the planned easing of border restrictions for international students and other eligible visa holders would be postponed until at least December 15.
Many international students who had been looking forward to resuming their education in Australia were left feeling uncertain and confused.
Experts say that they hope it has not potentially further damaged Australia’s reputation as an education destination. Most other countries like UK, the USA and Canada have opened their gates for international students despite the emergence of the new strain. Strict Covid tests and isolation have been imposed for travelers but borders have not been shut.