India has asked Australia to ease coronavirus travel restrictions for international students who have not been able to travel to Australia.
India has urged Australia on Saturday to let its students travel to Australia. India’s Minister of External Affairs, Dr S. Jaishankar, said he raised the issue with Australian officials visiting India on the weekend.
India sends almost 100,000 thousand students to Australia every year. However, the students have been unable to travel to the country since the pandemic started 18 months ago.
Dr S. Jaishankar said he raised the issue with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne who was in New Delhi for India-Australia ministerial-level annual 2X2 meet.
“We have heard a lot from the students, and I think their frustrations, their feelings, are completely understandable. Many of them would like to be at the institutions where they want to study,” Jaishankar told media persons.
“We have been having some problems with some other countries as well. We had initially with the US, we are still having some issues with Canada,” he added.
Australia had previously said that the national plan allows states with 80% of its adults fully vaccinated to resume international travel even if other states had not.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported that the federal government plans to issue international COVID-19 vaccination certificates from October. The officials are in talks with different countries to work out which vaccines will be recognised.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, State and territory governments will determine which educational institutions and students can participate in an International Student Arrival Plan. This also includes travel and quarantine arrangements for returning students.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that higher vaccination levels of Australians were required to “give us the confidence to begin a sort of reopening” that will enable students to return.
“I am one of the most enthusiastic proponents of welcoming back our much-loved Indian students back to the Australian education system as soon as it is possible for us,” Payne said at a press conference in New Delhi.
“The Covid restrictions have impacted travel to and from Australia, not just the students that you have raised but for Australians themselves,” she said, adding that there were around 60,000 Indians currently studying in Australia.
“I look forward to being one of the people at the airport to welcome the first arrivals of Indian students coming back,” said Ms Payne.