New South Wales reopens to overseas students, but China excluded

Only learners fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with an Australia-approved jab will be allowed in

September 24, 2021
Sydney Australia May 13, 2014 Boeing 777 wearing Singapore Airlines livery approaching for landing at Kingsford Smith airport at Dusk , with the city Skyline in the background
Source: iStock

Australia’s most populous state has been given the green light to reopen to international students before the end of the year, but learners from key markets such as China are likely to be excluded.

The New South Wales government said that Canberra had approved its plan to quarantine overseas students in a purpose-built facility in Sydney, with 500 students expected to arrive before the end of the year.

However, only students who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will be allowed to participate in the programme.

So far, the TGA has approved the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen jabs. This means that students from key markets such as China and Nepal, which have relied on Chinese vaccines for their inoculation drive, are unlikely to be eligible.

Institutions taking part in the scheme include the top-ranked University of Sydney and UNSW Sydney. Other participants include Macquarie and Western Sydney universities, the universities of Newcastle and Wollongong, the Australian Catholic University and the University of Technology Sydney.

Independent providers Kaplan, Navitas, RedHill and Study Group have signed up too, alongside the International College of Management Sydney.

The New South Wales government said that participating institutions will contact students to seek expressions of interest for their return. All arrivals will be on chartered flights, paid for by students.

Deputy premier John Barilaro said that the staggered return of students was stage one of a pilot that would expand as vaccination rates continue to rise in the state and in key sending markets.

Barney Glover, the Western Sydney vice-chancellor who serves as governor of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, welcomed the announcement.

“After over 18 months of planning, we are delighted that both the Australian and NSW government[s] are supportive of a pilot plan for an incremental reopening of our borders to our international students,” Professor Glover said.

A plan to jet in 250 students to New South Wales was put on hold this summer as the Delta variant unleashed a new wave of coronavirus cases across Australia.

South Australia also has plans to fly in international learners, using a quarantine facility in Adelaide.

Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said that institutions across the country had been “working diligently on pilot plans, and the NSW scheme will be closely watched”.

“Nearly half of all international students in higher education remain outside of Australia. Around one third of our international PhD students are also offshore, anxious to return to complete their research here. All of them will be looking to the success of the New South Wales initiative,” Ms Jackson said.

“International students make a significant cultural and economic contribution to Australian life, and we look forward to a time when we can safely welcome all students back. We will continue to work with all levels of government, as well as be guided by expert medical advice, in this endeavour.”

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

This is bonkers. Fully vaccinated students have to catch a charter flight and then spend 14 days in some shed with 499 other students so they can 'study' with Navitas. Lol.
What happened to scientific thinking and understanding of vaccines? It seems that the authorities are having double standards in their understanding of vaccines compared with the policy of national vaccination. What’s next? Only Australian manufactured vaccines (all vaccines are manufactured overseas) are approved?

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