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International students to return to Queensland from 2022: premier

queensland's borders
Only fully vaccinated students will be allowed to enter Queensland’s borders under the plan. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today that international students will be able to return to study in Queensland in 2022. In a Twitter post, she said 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.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said up to 250 international students will be allowed to fly into Queensland’s borders per week and quarantine at the state’s facility at Wellcamp, near Toowoomba, which is still under construction. The plan still needs federal government approval, with the state also asking for international flights to be permitted to land at Wellcamp Airport.

“I’m pleased to announce today that we’ve taken the next most important step in welcoming international students back to Queensland,” Hinchliffe was quoted saying to parliament. “Our Queensland student arrival plan has been sent to the federal government for approval. This will see the return of international students to study in Queensland in 2022.”

Queensland’s borders will reopen to a small group of students first

Hinchliffe said initially 250 students would arrive per week, but that would be scaled up as time went on. Students studying medical research and allied health degrees will be prioritised, so they can potentially back up the state’s health system after it reopens borders. If the federal government does not approve international flights landing at Wellcamp, students will be bussed there from Brisbane Airport.

Only fully vaccinated students will be allowed to enter Queensland’s borders under the plan. “We don’t know if and when mutation number five will arrive, but our best defence is vaccination. That’s why we’re urging all Queenslanders to get double-vaxxed for themselves, for their family and their communities,” he was quoted saying. 

The minister said there were over 20,000 international university students currently enrolled in Queensland, who have been studying online from their 160 home countries. The sector deliver $5.8 billion Australian dollars to the economy and supported 27,500 jobs annually.

queensland's borders

Initially, only 250 students would arrive per week, but that would be scaled up. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Other developments on international students’ return to Australia 

Recently, the ACT government said they will welcome back international tertiary education students who are fully vaccinated with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccines for the start of the 2022 academic year.

“Students will need to follow all Australian government vaccination and testing requirements for international arrivals. Quarantine will not be required in the ACT for fully vaccinated students,” said its press statement. “The ACT government will continue to work with the universities and CIT as they prepare for the return of international students.”

The first phase of the New South Wales pilot plan will see 250 international students flying in on chartered flights, paid for by the students, per fortnight by the end of the year.

Under the first stage of the Victorian Government’s Student Arrivals Plan, 120 places will be available each week for Victorian university students, prioritising those who need to undertake practical work to continue or complete their degrees, such as health and medical degree students, as well as postgraduate research students.

Separately, the Australia travel bubble with Singapore will allow vaccinated students and business travellers to travel freely between Australia and Singapore as the first step, before opening up to tourists.