The NSW pilot plan will initially see a limited number of students from a range of countries in purpose-built student accommodation adhering to the same quarantine requirements as all incoming travellers.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said international students are a vital missing piece in the state’s economic recovery, with the sector worth $14.6 billion in 2019.
“International education is our second most valuable export and we need to do what we can to help students return and revive this sector as quickly as possible,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Typically, we have more than 250,000 international students studying in NSW each year and they directly supported over 95,000 local jobs prior to the pandemic. If we don’t act fast, students will turn to other overseas destinations and it could take the sector decades to recover.
“That’s why we’ve developed a pilot plan supported by NSW Health and NSW Police that enables 250 international students to come to Sydney per fortnight from mid-year, in a gradual approach that will enable us to closely manage the process and ensure community health is not compromised.
The international student allocation will be in addition to the current number of returning Australians allowed into NSW each week.
NSW Health would triage arriving students and direct them to quarantine at specially approved student accommodation at no cost to taxpayers. The first of these sites has been chosen, with contract negotiations well advanced.
International students make up a significant cohort in Australian MBA programs. In 2019, international student enrolments accounted for 21076 enrolments in MBAs in Australia.
Prior to COVID-19, there was a growing trend by Australian universities and private providers to try and attract international students, who generally pay higher fees than domestic students.
Professor Barney Glover AO, on behalf of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, welcomed the state’s approval of the program after working collaboratively for several months to commence the safe return of international students to NSW.
“As at May this year, there were many higher education students diligently studying offshore – many of whom expect to return to our campuses to finish their studies. This Program has carefully considered the personal, social and academic aspects of our students, to ensure they successfully resume their studies and re-join NSW’s vibrant, multicultural community as soon as possible,” Professor Glover said.
“We are excited to finally welcome back international students to experience the world-class education, training and research that makes NSW such an attractive destination for education.”
Council of International Students President Belle Lim was extremely encouraged to learn that the NSW Plan had been submitted for review.
“We are so happy to see that international students will be welcomed back to NSW. This sends a great message to international students studying online offshore that there is hope that things will return to normal again,” Ms Lim said.
“We are pleased to see the cautious approach but are hopeful the numbers of students arriving will scale over time. CISA strongly supports the detailed planning that has been done by NSW.
The NSW plan has been submitted to the Federal Government for final review.