While the federal government plans for the first wave of students to arrive in Australia, international students and colleges will be forced to cough up travel and quarantine costs.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham revealed on Sunday that as part of a pilot programme to revive the international education sector that has been pummelling by the coronavirus pandemic, up to 300 students will begin arriving in Adelaide.
Universities are bracing for the COVID-19 epidemic for a possible $3 billion hit to their budgets. The Eight Group — including Sydney University and Melbourne University — represents 65,000 of over 100,000 Chinese students stranded overseas, while students from other major markets like India, Nepal, and Vietnam were also trapped at home.
The students will travel on flights arriving in Singapore by early September. The community also comprises Hong Kong, Chinese and Japanese graduates.
Senator Birmingham said it will be used as a reference case for South Australia, which has had one confirmed COVID-19 infection this week from a returning traveller. Victoria struggles to suppress a second wave as NSW reports regular increases of one-digit.
Senator Birmingham said that South Australia had shown that without group outbreaks it could repatriate Australians from abroad, and the same approach should be taken with foreign students.
“We want to make sure that anything that happens in relation to international arrivals coming into Australia is done with the strictest of safety standards in place,” he said. “I also want to stress as well that no taxpayer dollars will be used in terms of supporting students flying into Australia or quarantining as is required.”
During the pandemic, foreign students who paid an average of over $30,000 a year to study in Australia were not eligible for government benefits, causing queues at restaurants and food banks to get free meals. At the time of the pandemic, there were over 500,000 foreign students in Australia.