It is no secret that international education contributes significantly to the Australian economy.
According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, health and education contributes 13% to Australia’s GDP.
Apart from the contribution to our universities and other educational institutes, international students also make other contributions to Australia – they contribute human capital to our workforce, they bring cultural diversity to the country, and in pre-COVID-19 times, they also contribute to the tourism industry.
As early as July 2020, there had been plans to bring back international students who had been stranded offshore. These plans were of course subject to the state or territory in question opening its borders and the university campuses being open to on-campus learning for both domestic students and international students who are onshore.
On 5 October 2020, Charles Darwin University announced a pilot program to bring back 70 international students in time for the intake on 9 November 2020. These students will fly in from Singapore to Darwin and they will undergo mandatory quarantine at the Government facility at Howard Springs. A similar program has also been announced by Adelaide University, the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Flinders University, and it is likely that 300 students will travel to Australia between November 2020 and January 2021.
Current Travel Restrictions
Followers of our blog will no doubt be aware that the Australian border is still closed to international travel. With the exception of categories such as Australian citizens, permanent residents, eligible New Zealand citizens and their immediate family members, non-citizens generally need to request an exemption in order to enter Australia. Currently, the categories of exemptions available to non-citizens are:
- non-citizen travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies;
- a non-citizen with critical skillsor working in a critical sector in Australia;
- a non-citizen sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL);
- a non-citizen whose entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority;
- military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement;
- a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department;
- travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
This means that, all 70 students heading to CDU for their studies currently need to request a travel exemption, and have their request approved before they can board the plane to the Northern Territory. Currently, there is no separate category for student visa holders, and it is unclear if the ABF will update the list once the pilot programs commence.
Extend your stay in Australia. There are still too many places to visit before going back home.
As of 16 October 2020, persons who had been in New Zealand for at least the last 14 days, and not in a designated hot spot can travel to New South Wales and the Northern Territory quarantine free. Potentially this travel bubble could allow student visa holders who are currently residing in New Zealand to enter New South Wales and the Northern Territory quarantine free so that they can commence or resume their studies.
Further, Australia is also in talks with countries who have controlled the outbreak of COVID-19 to establish select travel bubbles with them. Singapore has opened its borders to passengers from Australia, but travel is still one-way. Japan has also been flagged for inclusion in a future travel bubble. If these travel bubbles are two-way, potentially, student visa holders can rely on these travel bubbles to come to Australia to commence or resume their studies.
Contact the Team
If you are considering applying for a student visa to study in Australia or If you hold a student visa and are currently offshore, and you are unsure about whether you require a travel exemption request to be approved, please contact our office on 0499600707 or email@example.com.
Avv. Alessia Comandini (MARN 1684766)