Australian international students news | Melbourne Universities Proposed to Sponsor Students Travel

Universities in Victoria are so desperate to reintroduce international students this year that they’ve suggested helping to fund a quarantine scheme based after the Australian Open, in which tennis players were permitted to enter amid a strict limit on arrivals.

In an ambitious attempt to revive international education in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, a university-backed initiative will see around 1000 international students flying to Melbourne every two to three weeks and put in special hotel lockdown arrangements.

The move comes as universities, which are in the midst of their worst financial crisis in decades, become increasingly angry with the federal and state governments over the tens of thousands of students enrolled in Victorian institutions who are still stranded offshore.

The state of New South Wales is pushing ahead, with the government requesting expressions of interest from student housing providers last week to allow up to 10,000 students to return this year.

A taskforce comprised of Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, and Deakin universities, as well as the state government agency Global Victoria has held a series of meetings to determine how to reintroduce stranded foreign students to Victoria, but the proposal has yet to be approved by the state government. The government has declined to comment on the matter, other than to state that students will not be allowed to return “until it is safe to do so.”

The Victorian universities suggest bringing students from China and India to Melbourne on chartered flights and quarantining them in the same Melbourne city hotels that the Australian Open players stayed in January.
Flights, medical research, transportation, and quarantine facilities have also been provided by universities. The plan will also include donations from students and the state government. Students would be reintegrated into their respective institutions after they had received medical clearance.

Universities have offered to help pay for flights, medical testing, transport, and quarantine facilities. The plan will also include donations from students and the state government. Students will be reintegrated into their respective institutions after they had received medical clearance.

The first stage of the scheme would be limited to hotels run by government agency COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, but it is hoped that it would later be extended to include purpose-built student housing, much of which is currently sitting empty.

Universities have looked into a variety of flight options, including direct commercial flights between China and India, charter flights from a center in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and charter flights from Shanghai and Mumbai to Melbourne. The proposal does not aim to decrease the number of Australians who are permitted to return.

The Andrews government must send a proposal to the Morrison government for approval before students can arrive in Victoria. While Premier Daniel Andrews has overstated the likelihood of students returning this year, federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has allowed states to bring students back in small pilot projects.

After the pandemic, about 260,000 overseas students have stranded offshore. According to The Age this week, the shortage of international students due to Australia’s strict border restrictions is expected to cost the economy $18 billion, with $6 billion coming from Victoria, including $6 billion from Victoria, where international education is the state’s single biggest export commodity.

Multiple proposals proposed over months in Victoria have gotten little traction. RMIT is collaborating with the Victorian government, the City of Melbourne, and other universities “on a statewide approach that will enable international students to join Victoria,” according to a spokeswoman.

A spokesperson for the University of Melbourne said the university “has been working closely with other universities and the state government to promote the return of foreign students to Victoria for the past 12 months.”
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