Return of International students

Australia not ready to allow return of international students

Given the world still grappling with COVID pandemic, Australia cannot open international borders to allow influx of international arrivals. That is perhaps the main reason why Alan Tudge  says it will perhaps be next year when we can see return of international students.

Perhaps he and others (responsible to make decisions) are watching and thus taking their time to plan opening international borders, data issued by Health Canada reveals Indians and Canadians flying from India to Canada are bringing into Canada the largest number of international passengers testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Bharat Times has reported earlier – any hopes of free (or near free) international travel between India and Australia has been jeopardised by India’s second wave which is somewhat out of control of the Indian authorities.

The Health Canada data shows the two daily flights between the New Delhi and Toronto, operated by Air India and Air Canada have brought in the largest number of covid infected people into Canada.

Significantly, flights from Delhi for the period March 3-19 to Toronto carried Covid-positive passengers.

The two most-heavily infected flights from Delhi landed in Toronto on March 9 and 13.

The entire business-class and premium economy cabins on the Air Canada Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Delhi on March 9 were reported to be affected.

Indian-origin flights have been the biggest source of Covid-positive passengers.

This is precisely what Australia cannot allow and that is why Alan Tudge, Australia’s Minister for Education does not envisage any mass arrivals of international students from India this year. He told a Study in Australia webinar:

“My hope is that certainly from next year we will be starting to be close to being normal again and having significant numbers of international students to be returning, but there are a lot of ifs to get to that point in time,” he said.

“The if in some respects is a bit dependent on how effective the vaccine is and not just on the efficacy of not getting sick but also from the efficacy on transmission,” he added.

India is facing a big spike in COVID cases as second wave of the virus has hit many, prosperous states of the country. On March 25, India recorded more than 47,000 new infections, the highest number of cases, in many months.

Also read: Tudge assures compliance by regional migrants

The other problem India has is the divided opinion of experts on the measures to control the virus. They are divided on the efficacy of lockdowns and some experts believe vaccination is the only way to control it.

Indian international students however, are bearing the brunt of it all – sitting idle in India grappling with covid’s second wave deluge which has also recorded cases of thus far unseen double mutant variants – while destinations like Australia, Canada, US & the UK where they have to complete their studies – are closely looking at the measure of the Indian government to ensure controls and efficacy of any COVID-19 passport regime.

Given the micromanagement style of Alan Tudge, seen in various roles he has had, one can rest assured, he is not going to subject Australia to any avoidable risks of COVID infection onslaught.

Therefore, risk prone return of international students, \not under his watch, I am absolutely certain.