Fully vaccinated international students arriving in NSW under a pilot program next month will not be required to undergo any length of quarantine, the NSW government has announced.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the announcement on Friday, as a major step in reinvigorating the estimated $40 billion Australian international education sector.
The pilot program will see the return of 500 international students by the end of this year.
Under previous plans, these students were going to be sent into quarantine upon arrival, however now, students vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine will be given the same freedoms as returning NSW citizens and residents, and not be required to quarantine.
The first chartered flight, expected to touch down on 6 December, will carry around 250 students into NSW from over 15 countries, including Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Canada.
A second flight is expected to land about two weeks after, bringing in students from South Asia and India.
The NSW Premier said the move is a “significant milestone”.
“They don’t just make a significant contribution to our economy, but international students play a role in our culture and contribute to our community and lifestyle,” Premier Perrottet said.
NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee convenor Professor Barney Glover welcomed the announcement, adding, “We have missed the many contributions international students make to our community.”
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said returning international students would require Commonwealth government approval to travel to Australia.
“I welcome continued collaboration with the Commonwealth government in supporting international students as they return to NSW,” Minister Ayres added.
“This sends a clear message about how much NSW values our international students.”
Prior to the pandemic, around 290,000 international students were studying at universities and in NSW alone.
Despite NSW’s announcement, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed that international students returning to Queensland in the early new year will still be required to enter mandatory quarantine.
In fact, she said international students will be the first cohort to try out the state’s new regional quarantine facility built at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba. The accommodation costs will reportedly fall on the students and their education providers.
“This is why we went it alone to make Wellcamp a reality,” Premier Palaszczuk said. “It gives Queensland an opportunity other states don’t have.”
Meanwhile, South Australia appears also tipped to ditch quarantine requirements for international students, after scrapping its plans for its own dedicated quarantine facility for overseas students, while Victoria is expected to shortly follow NSW’s lead and also axe quarantine for double-jabbed overseas arrivals.