Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on Monday that it would delay Australia’s border reopening from December 1 to December 15 due to concerns about the Omicron variant hasn’t been well received by many international students.
Many were quick to voice their frustrations and disappointments on social media. Some said thousands of dollars have gone up in smoke after purchasing flight tickets, only to be told that they cannot fly into the country.
Other countries have stopped flights from those 9 countries only but our beloved Australia has banned literally each and every country for god knows what reason.
— Rini Dharva (@notanomaj) November 29, 2021
International students want reimbursement for their flight tickets
Hundreds of students on Twitter have expressed their anger and frustrations with the announcement online. Many lament that they have spent thousands on their flight tickets, while students are also uncertain if and how they can get a refund.
“What about students who had booked their flights?” said one Twitter user. “Is the Australian government going to reimburse us for the tickets we booked? You have an extremely unstable and unreliable government.”
Another Twitter user said: “Thousands of students have booked their flight tickets at exorbitant prices. And to now delay the reopening when December 1 is a day away, I hope we get hold of the reality that this country of our dreams isn’t what we need in our lives. If this happens, #LetUsBackToAus.”
The delays in Australia’s border reopening suggests online learning will continue for those locked out of the country.
International students locked out of Australia are also confused about their next steps. Chinese international student Zhang Yiming told ABC News that he had turned down an internship offer from one of the most prestigious law firms in Shanghai to study in Australia.
Delays in Australia’s border reopening has been a source of frustration for him. The 28-year-old said he had his flight cancelled just 12 hours before the departure.
“The decision is extremely irresponsible for temporary visa holders, who were left without any time to prepare and respond to the urgent announcement,” he was quoted saying.
Anyone here who’s booked tickets before 15th December?
What is the option left for us now? #LetUsBackToAus
— Rini Dharva (@notanomaj) November 29, 2021
Losing their trust in Australia
Delays to Australia’s border reopening has also hurt the country’s reputation. Previously, Filipino student Diana Olivar told Study International that she didn’t expect Australia to close its borders for that long. Needing to move on, she decided to transfer from her university in Australia to Canada.
One Twitter user said she is advising her junior to study elsewhere to save themselves from the heartache of the country’s border closures.
Funny thing happened today.
A junior of mine came to me with the same Australian dream. Asked me if she should go ahead.
I said “They’ve got no soul. They treat us like trash. Go to Canada, UK or US.”
— Rini Dharva (@notanomaj) November 30, 2021
Kirk Yan, a Melbourne-based migration agent and an advocate for international students and temporary residents in Australia, told ABC News the announcement would see a further decline of confidence in Australia’s border policies.
“Other popular studying destinations such as Canada, the UK and the US, which opened their borders to international students way earlier than Australia, haven’t closed their borders due to Omicron,” Yan was quoted saying. “This announcement will lead to further declining interest in studying in Australia.”
Australia’s border closure has continued to upend the lives of many
Delays in Australia’s border reopening is also taking a mental toll on international students.
Oscar Zi Shao Ong, national president of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), a not-for-profit, non-politically and non-commercially aligned organisation formed in response to the needs of international students for a unified voice, said: “We have overwhelming feedback that online studies just aren’t working,” said Ong.
“Additionally, this is not what international students paid for. They paid for quality, face-to-face education. Further to that, onshore students would have received better support in terms of engagements and social events.”
He added that offshore students suffer from a lack of belonging to their university, while some have never stepped foot on campus. “A recent report also suggests overseas students suffered from poor mental health, especially if they came from a country with a large amount of COVID cases,” he says.