Could international students return to Australia before Christmas? There’s no definite answer at the moment, but the South Australian government is reportedly ironing out the final logistics of a pilot programme that would see some 300 international students returning to South Australia.
The state hasn’t committed to a renewed timeline since the announcement of the pilot programme in late August but South Australia’s 46th Premier Steven Marshall has indicated that he would like to launch the trial before Christmas, according to SBS Punjabi. “Our CBDs around the country are looking pretty forlorn with no international travellers, no international students and many people working from home,” said Stevens to ABC Radio, via SBS Punjabi. “And we have got to be putting strategies in place to address that and one of the things that we put forward in South Australia is proof of concept with up to 300 students be[ing] repatriated into South Australia before Christmas,” he added.
The state government is reportedly waiting for the federal government’s approval of the proposal, a spokesperson was previously quoted saying. “The South Australian government is still working closely with the Commonwealth and relevant agencies to ensure a pilot programme provides a safe return for up to 300 international students,” the spokesperson said.
Previously, Education Minister Dan Tehan had said that “it’s very hard to tell” when students will be able to start coming into the country. According to SBS Punjabi, it is understood that the Morrison government is expected to prioritise finding a resolution on internal border bans and caps on international arrivals before giving its consent to South Australia to fly back its international students.
Australia is fielding increased calls to bring back international students to its shores safely soon. In the UK, universities are already looking into using charter flights to bring international students affected by the pandemic into the country. Recently, Queen’s University Belfast had chartered a plane to bring 369 Chinese students back to Belfast, Northern Ireland to reduce anxiety and stress about traveling for the new semester, reported CGTN.
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