Visa Crunch

International Students Will Choose Australia Once Again, Says Education Minister of Australia

International students have cause to be optimistic about returning to Australia. The country has stated that a small group of international students will be admitted at the end of the year as part of its New South Wales and Victoria pilot programs.

Australian education minister Alan Tudge, on October 8, said he was “optimistic” about the foreign student sector’s recovery and that Australia is investigating what regulations and policies could be put in place to enable students to return quickly.

Roughly 500 international students are expected to return to Australia in December, according to the New South Wales government. Furthermore, the Victorian government has presented its plan to the Australian government for review.

The first stage of the idea, if approved, would see 120 spots available each week, with priority given to university students who need to return to Victoria for practical work, such as health and medical students and postgraduate research students.

“The second stage of the plan will expand to include more students, including those who are enrolled with other education providers such as TAFEs, English-language colleges, private education providers, and secondary schools. More information about stage two will be available soon,” said the state government on its website.

These are all very promising and they are happening this year,” said Tudge. “Looking into next year, my expectation is that we will have very significant numbers coming in. I cannot put a figure on that just yet, but my hope would be that tens of thousands can return.”

Tudge added that they are also working in conjunction with South Australia on the final specifics of when and how students would return, as part of the June plan. Although Australia will only accept a limited number of international students in the medium term, Tudge thinks that there will be a need for more.

“When that occurs, I am confident that students will return in significant numbers. We are known for exceptionally high-quality education, for our incredible lifestyle, and for being friendly welcoming people,” Tudge said. “We are considering what policies we could put in place to help expedite the rapid return of students once supply no longer becomes the limiting factor,” he added.

Returning to Australia might be conceivable due to an increase in vaccination rates in Australia. According to Tudge, the country is on the verge of meeting the 70 percent and 80 percent vaccination targets. “We’ve already vaccinated 81 percent of over 16s with the first dosage, and just under 60 percent with the second dose.”

“They’ve already touched 70% of double dosages in New South Wales,” he claimed. “These vaccination rates allow for the entire reopening of our economy, including the opening of our international borders. The National Plan, as you know, expressly states that international students can start to return at 70%, and then in larger numbers from 80%.”                

Australia has previously indicated that foreign travel will resume in November, with Australians and permanent residents being the first to benefit, followed by overseas students and skilled professionals. Tudge stated that the measures are being put in place to enable the safe admittance of a bigger number of people.

For incoming overseas travelers, Australia has also recognized the Sinovac and Covishield vaccines, which is crucial for international students who received these vaccines in their main sources nations, such as India and China. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are among the four vaccinations previously licensed for use in Australia.

This month, Australia will implement an International COVID19 Vaccine Certificate. “While this will initially be used to authenticate vaccination, certificates issued by other countries,” noted Tudge, “it will be expanded to authenticate vaccination certificates issued by other countries.”

Home-based quarantines are being tested in Australia. It has the potential to break the hotel quarantine bottleneck if it is successful. “In the not-too-distant future, this may be for a matter of days, not weeks,” he remarked.

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