Overseas students spared quarantine in Australia’s biggest state

‘Sense prevails’ as New South Wales declares that incoming students will be treated like locals

November 12, 2021
Source: iStock

International students arriving in New South Wales (NSW) will no longer be required to isolate, avoiding two weeks of downtime and obligations to contribute towards quarantine fees of A$9,000 (£4,910) per person.

The change in policy, announced late on 12 November, applies to students who are fully immunised with vaccines that Australia recognises for international travel purposes.

The state’s premier, Dominic Perrottet, said international education played a vital role in connecting NSW to the world, with the 290,000-odd students in the state before the pandemic supporting more than 95,000 full-time jobs.

“This is a significant milestone in our road map to recovery, and I can’t wait to welcome back such an important part of our community,” Mr Perrottet said.

“They don’t just make a significant contribution to our economy. International students play a role in our culture and contribute to our community and lifestyle.”

NSW trade minister Stuart Ayres said students would require federal government approval to enter Australia. “I welcome continued collaboration with the commonwealth government in supporting international students as they return,” he said. “This sends a clear message about how much NSW values our international students.”

Mr Perrottet made a similar announcement in mid-October but was quickly contradicted by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, who said only Australian citizens and residents could enter the country without quarantining.

Prime ministerial intervention is considered unlikely this time around, although questions remain about airports’ capacity to validate the immunisation status of large numbers of incoming travellers.

That problem is unlikely to trouble a chartered planeload of overseas students who are scheduled to arrive in Sydney on 6 December under the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan.

The state government said the plane would be carrying students from 15 countries including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, China and Canada, with a second flight ferrying students from South Asia also scheduled.

The International Education Association of Australia said it would have been “totally inequitable” to have maintained a quarantine regime for international students once such requirements had been discarded for returning Australians. “It’s great to see that amongst all the politicking to date, common sense has prevailed,” said chief executive Phil Honeywood.

For the time being, students will be able to come to NSW only via the pilot plan’s “phased approach”. The state government said lodgings company Scape, which had been contracted to provide quarantine, would “continue as the accommodation partner supporting international students as they return”.


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