Strict quarantine conditions are expected to see international students bypass Queensland and head for universities in New South Wales and Victoria in 2022, with the Sunshine State forcing students to pay for a mandatory, two-week stay in an isolated quarantine facility.
Australia’s Federal Government announced last week that 150,000 current international student visa holders will now be able to return to Australia from 1 December 2021, if they are fully vaccinated
However, the students will still be subject to the vagaries of individual states with all international students coming to Queensland, including those who are fully vaccinated, required to undertake a two-week stay at a quarantine facility in the regional city of Toowoomba.
Initially, only 250 international students will be able to come to Queensland every week from early 2022 and students will be forced to pay for their stay at the facility. Without forcing international students into the new facility, which is currently under construction, the Queensland Government runs the risk it would become a white elephant.
Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has refused to budge on the draconian rules for international students entering Queensland despite New South Wales and Victoria abandoning mandatory quarantine and treating returning international students the same as Australians returning home.
The decision is expected to cost Queensland’s $5.8 billion education sector dearly with the chair of the Queensland Vice-Chancellors Committee Professor Sandra Harding telling the Brisbane Times that Queensland would be “left behind” without a change of heart.
“We want to follow health directions and we want to make sure our own communities are safe … but we have to address the cold hard reality here that students will be able to come back into NSW without quarantining,” she told the Brisbane Times.
“We have to think what that means for Queensland students and institutions, and for the economy overall, quite frankly.”
Professor Harding said mandatory quarantine could not only deter international students from wanting to study in Queensland, but tempt others to spend their first fortnight in Australia living free elsewhere.
“We can’t be encouraging students to go to NSW, even for two weeks, in my mind,” she said. “Let them spend their money in Queensland.
Under Queensland’s strict rules a proportion of students must study at universities outside of the capital of Brisbane and priority would be given to medical and health students
Queensland’s Tourism, Innovation and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said 20,000 students enrolled with a Queensland university had been studying offshore.
“While remote learning has made it possible for students to continue Queensland university studies from their home countries, we recognise it isn’t a sustainable, long-term substitute for to face-to-face tutorials and practical experience.