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International students could return to Darwin, Australia in Jan. 2022

Northern territory
International education minister Nicole Manison told ABC News that the government was preparing to lodge a plan with the federal government. Source: Wang Zhao/AFP

International students are waiting for further updates on their return to Australia. Currently, ACT, Queensland and New South Wales are among the states and territories that have announced plans for international students’ return, but what about the Northern Territory?

According to ABC News, international education minister Nicole Manison said the government was preparing to lodge a plan with the federal government. If approved, it could see up to two flights carrying a maximum of 180 students land in Darwin in January 2022.

“International students are a massive contributor to the territory economy, with each student contributing an average of 40,693 Australian dollars each year,” she told the portal. “By facilitating a pathway for international students to return to the territory and to Australia, we are helping to diversify the economy, grow our population and support local jobs.”

Northern Territory: Updates

Charles Darwin University (CDU) vice-chancellor Scott Bowman told ABC News that student numbers had languished in the Northern Territory amid uncertainty on a timeline, while the territory has also lost students to other key international student markets.

“We have lost students to other countries, particularly Canada and the UK, and now we’re starting to see that some other states are opening up and we are seeing some evidence that Territory students are going to the other states,” he was quoted saying.

At the beginning of 2020, the number of international students had risen 8% to 2,119. But Bowman said numbers had dropped swiftly this year to 2,044 international students, and were still on a downwards trajectory. He added that many restaurants are not open as students can’t work there.

Bowman said CDU has been working with the Northern Territory government to get a second charter flight off the ground, but that it wasn’t “getting anywhere.” “We’ve done everything we can,” he said. In a bid to compete with Australia’s top tier universities, CDU reduced its fees for international students studying online by 25%. Bowman said the university would also consider paying quarantine fees or facilitating accommodation for home quarantine.

northern territory

If approved, it could see up to two flights carrying a maximum of 180 students land in Darwin in January 2022. Source: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

International students’ return to Australia 

Currently, certain states and territories have announced plans for international students’ return. 

Study Queensland notes: “The Queensland Student Arrivals Plan (QSAP) is currently with the Australian Government for final endorsement. Once endorsed, the plan will commence in early 2022.”  

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said international students will be the first to use the Regional Quarantine Facility at Wellcamp. International students entering Queensland’s borders must be fully vaccinated and a proportion of students will study at universities outside of Brisbane.

Meanwhile, about 500 international students are expected to return to New South Wales in December, and will be required to quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation in Sydney.

Currently, Australia has eased its international border restrictions for fully vaccinated Australians, residents and their family members who can return to certain states or territories without quarantining.