International students reprieved from Perth lockout

But new recruits and direct arrivals miss out under new Western Australian rules

January 27, 2022
City view of Perth, Western Australia, illustrating news article about Covid rules for international students

International students have earned a reprieve from Western Australia’s reimposed coronavirus lockout, after being added to the groups exempted from the state’s “hard border”.

But the exemption appears to apply only to “returning” students, bypassing those starting new courses. And incoming students will need to have spent at least a fortnight in Australia’s eastern states before crossing into Western Australia – where they will then be required to quarantine for another 14 days.

The new arrangements are spelt out in a direction from the acting police commissioner. It revises provisions outlined on 21 January, when the government reneged on its mid-December commitment to allow foreign and interstate travellers to enter the state quarantine-free from 5 February.

That plan was being shelved “in response to serious concerns around the impacts of the Omicron variant”, the government explained. Access would instead be restricted to a handful of “approved” groups – such as returning Western Australians and people entering on security or compassionate grounds or for urgent medical treatment – who would need to self-quarantine for 14 days, as well as demonstrating that they had received three vaccine jabs and tested negative for coronavirus.

While students have now been added, it is not clear why the approval does not extend to commencing students or those arriving directly from overseas.

“This is a complete policy debacle,” said Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia. “Western Australia’s reputation as a welcoming study destination has been compromised.” He said students were the victims of the “constant change in the Western Australian government’s sentiment”.

Students and universities have banked on a reopening of the borders after the state’s premier, Mark McGowan, reportedly gave vice-chancellors verbal assurances in a November meeting that the restrictions would be lifted well before classes started in 2022.

Some 5,000 students were expected on the ground in time for the start of the academic year. Times Higher Education understands that some students have already paid their first semester fees and booked international flights.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

Reader's comments (1)

Does this mean that if i am starting a new course day in post-graduate level i cannot travel to Perth even via another state?


Featured jobs