International students will start returning to Victoria by the end of the year under the Victorian Government’s Student Arrivals Plan, which has been submitted to the Commonwealth for approval.
The Plan provides a graduated, safe return to study in Victoria for international students, and a pipeline for continued arrivals through 2022.
Students arriving under the plan will be in addition to Victoria’s existing international arrivals cap, which means they will not displace returning Australians.
Under the first stage of the plan, 120 places will be available each week for Victorian university students, prioritising those who need to undertake practical work to continue or complete their degrees, such as health and medical degree students, as well as postgraduate research students.
“This sensible plan will progressively get students who are enrolled at Victorian universities, TAFEs and colleges safely into Victoria so they can undertake their studies”, Victorian Minister for Trade Martin Pakula said.
“Victorian universities have been working collaboratively with the Victorian Government on a plan to facilitate the return of international students to the state” Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne Professor Duncan Maskell said.
“A gradual return of international students means we can keep Victorians safe and not affect places for returning Australians” Minister Pakula added.
“We are pleased the plan has now been submitted to the Federal Government – we look forward to Minister Tudge reviewing and approving the plan as soon as possible” Professor Maskell added.
Universities will provide funding towards the extra quarantine places for student visa holders, with students required to cover the cost of their flight to Melbourne. Students will be quarantined in dedicated accommodation managed by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria.
The second stage will enable more places with larger-scale international student arrivals from across the sector, including those enrolled in TAFEs, English-language courses, private education providers and secondary schools.
International students are a vital part of Victoria’s academic and broader community. While over 75,000 international students from 100 countries are currently studying in Victoria, around 47,000 more are enrolled with Victorian education providers but remain offshore while Australia’s international borders are closed.
Our TAFE and training system is world-class, thanks to our expert teachers.
— Gayle Tierney MP (@GayleTierney) October 5, 2021
“We are excited to welcome back international students from the end of this year – they are a valued part of our community and help make it vibrant and prosperous”, Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education for Victoria Gayle Tierney said.
“We have made a record investment to help universities, TAFEs and training organisations through the pandemic – ensuring Victoria remains Australia’s top education destination” Minister Tierney added.
International education is a critical services export and jobs provider for Victoria, contributing a peak of $13.7 billion to the state’s economy and supporting around 79,000 Victorian jobs prior to the pandemic.
Students concerned about costs, Australia being behind
According to a report some students stuck overseas say they are concerned about the cost of returning and worry that degrees such as medicine and engineering will be prioritised over others.
The reaction comes as demand data from IDP Connect, which houses the world’s largest course database, shows Australia has fallen down the ranks of preferred destinations, losing out to Canada, the UK and the US.
International education contributed $40bn in 2019 dropping by 6%, or $2.2bn in 2020. While quarantining will be at the state’s cost in NSW, the cost in Victoria of $5000 will be borne by the universities which may ultimately be passed on to international students.
International students fear that particularly on top of high tuition fees and living expenses of international education in Austrlia.
More information is available at coronavirus.vic.gov.au/international-student-arrivals-plan.