The Australian Government and NSW Government have supported the NSW International Student Arrivals Plan to return international students to NSW. This is in line with the State’s roadmap to recovery and the National Transition Plan for Australia’s COVID-19 response.
As per this Plan, 250 international students studying with NSW education providers will be allowed to return each fortnight starting early December 2021. As of now, international students who return to Australia are required to be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognized COVID-19 vaccination before landing in Sydney.
On arrival in Sydney, international students will quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation and will mandatorily follow the same health and quarantine requirements set by the Australian Government for returning Australians.
It is to be noted that the NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan will not displace any returning Australians and will be fully funded by industry. The NSW Government will provide logistics support and will coordinate their return.
Additionally, on 1 November, TGA recognized two more COVID-19 vaccines not registered in Australia but used widely internationally. Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech, India) and BBIBP-CorV (manufactured by Sinopharm, China) vaccines would be ‘recognized’ for the purpose of establishing a traveller’s vaccination status. Travelers aged 12 and over who have been vaccinated with Covaxin, and those 18 to 60 who have been vaccinated with BBIBP-CorV, who have received all necessary doses, are considered to be fully vaccinated.
NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan
1. International students return to NSW
At present, 38 percent of Australia’s international students choose to study in NSW. As of September 2021, there were over 57,289 enrolled students outside of Australia who were unable to travel to New South Wales to study, due to travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
International students make many positive contributions to the communities where they study, live and work, and it is important that their arrival should be expedited.
Continuing students who are already in New South Wales have been supported by universities and other education providers, who have adapted to allow them to have a full and rewarding co-curricular experience.
2. NSW Government takes the initiative
The NSW Government is working with education providers and members of the international education community to ensure that international students who remain abroad can get back to their studies in the state as soon as possible.
The NSW International Student Arrivals Pilot Plan is the result of this collective plan, and will be funded by industry. The Plan has the governance and operational support of NSW Government and its agencies and the endorsement of the Australian Government.
As per the Plan, NSW will prioritise the return of continuing higher education students from universities and large independent providers, with other sectors and providers to follow as soon as possible. Following this, an expanded pilot plan will welcome more students from a range of institutions returning to NSW.
These returning students will be approached by their respective institutions based on their individual situations.
3. Australians first!
All international students are required to quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation in Sydney and adhere to health and quarantine requirements set by the Australian health authorities. Please note that international students will not be prioritised ahead of Australians returning or wanting to return home.
The State will continue to support as many returning Australian citizens and residents as possible. This depends on the State’s weekly cap on arrivals and the capacity of the health and quarantine systems.
These international student arrivals will not be included in the weekly caps. All the costs associated with travel and quarantine will be borne by the education providers and returning students.
4. Australia’s safety is top priority
The Plan ensures that the safety of the NSW community and the students themselves is top priority. Students and their families can have the confidence that their experience in NSW will be positive and life-changing.
Australia’s focus on minimising the risks of COVID-19 has been applauded across the world, and this means international students can be more confident of their experience in this country than just about anywhere else in the world.
NSW’s demonstrated and ongoing commitment to community safety and liveability, gives international students the opportunity to learn in one of the world’s best countries for students, acquire internationally recognised qualifications and launch their career in Australia or anywhere in the world. At least 16 per cent of international students choose to call Australia home after they graduate, which points to the conducive atmosphere for overseas students in the country.
5. A boost to the NSW economy
If NSW is unable to support the safe return of international students, the economic impact of international students not being onshore will only continue to worsen, and it will take years to rebuild.
It is estimated that New South Wales has already lost more than one third of its international student community between the start of the pandemic and September 2021. Many students have gone to other countries with fewer border restrictions, and some have chosen to stay in their home country.
Prior to the pandemic, international education was estimated to directly support more than 95,000 full-time equivalent jobs across the State’s economy, in the realms of education, hospitality, tourism and other services.
The loss of these students in 2021 translated to a $5 billion loss to the NSW economy. This could be as much as $11 billion in total by the end of 2022. All this shows that the return of international students in 2021 will help support a sustainable education sector in the future.