NSW to welcome back international students

International students are expected to be welcomed back under a NSW Government pilot plan for their safe return over the second half of the year.

The pilot plan will initially see a limited number of students from a range of countries quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation adhering to the same health and security requirements as all incoming travellers.

“International education is our second most valuable export and we need to do what we can to help students return and revive this sector as quickly as possible,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.

“Typically, we have more than 250,000 international students studying in NSW each year and they directly supported over 95,000 local jobs prior to the pandemic. If we don’t act fast, students will turn to other overseas destinations and it could take the sector decades to recover.

“That’s why we’ve developed a pilot plan supported by NSW Health and NSW Police that enables 250 international students to come to Sydney per fortnight from mid-year, in a gradual approach that will enable us to closely manage the process and ensure community health is not compromised.”

The international student allocation will be in addition to the current number of returning Australians allowed into NSW each week.

“This won’t come at the expense of returning Aussies. We will continue to bring back 3,000 people per week – well more than any other state,” Mr. Perrottet said.

NSW Health would triage arriving students and direct them to quarantine at specially approved student accommodation at no cost to taxpayers. The first of these sites has been chosen, with contract negotiations well advanced.

Professor Barney Glover AO, on behalf of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, welcomed the State’s approval of the Program after working collaboratively for several months to commence the safe return of international students to NSW.

“As at May this year, there were many higher education students diligently studying offshore – many of whom expect to return to our campuses to finish their studies. This Program has carefully considered the personal, social and academic aspects of our students, to ensure they successfully resume their studies and re-join NSW’s vibrant, multicultural community as soon as possible,” Professor Glover said.

Council of International Students President, Belle Lim was extremely encouraged to learn that the NSW Plan had been submitted for review.

“We are so happy to see that international students will be welcomed back to NSW. This sends a great message to international students studying online offshore that there is hope that things will return to normal again,” Ms. Lim said.

“We are pleased to see the cautious approach but are hopeful the numbers of students arriving will scale over time. CISA strongly supports the detailed planning that has been done by NSW.”

RLC CEO Joanna Shulman also welcomed the announcement, saying:

“This is fantastic news for thousands of students enrolled to study in NSW who are currently offshore. RLC congratulates the NSW Government on this welcome initiative that could see the return of international students to NSW within months, pending federal government approval.”

The NSW plan has been submitted to the Federal Government for final review.

View the latest advice for international students, education providers and agents