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New South Wales pilot plan ‘would expand and evolve’: minister

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What can the small group of international students from the pilot expect from the reopening of New South Wales borders to them? Source: Saeed Khan

What can international students expect for New South Wales borders? The state is hitting an important milestone — allowing a small group of international students back to its shores by the year-end. The New South Wales government recently announced a pilot plan to facilitate the return of some 500 international students from December 2021. 

Education partners involved in the pilot plan include: 

  • Australian Catholic University
  • Macquarie University
  • The University of Newcastle
  • The University of Sydney
  • UNSW
  • UTS
  • University of Wollongong 
  • Western Sydney University

The industry-funded pilot also includes independent providers the International College of Management Sydney, Kaplan, Navitas, RedHill and Study Group. Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro said the staggered return of international students was stage one of a pilot that would expand and evolve as vaccination rates continue to rise in NSW and internationally.

“The international education sector sustains thousands of jobs across New South Wales, and I’m proud that New South Wales is leading the way with the return of international students to our shores,” Barilaro said in a statement.

new south wales borders

Pilot participants must be fully vaccinated with TGA-approved vaccines. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

New South Wales borders only open to fully vaccinated individuals

All participating students will be required to be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) recognised COVID-19 vaccination before landing in Sydney, while strict quarantine protocols will be in place. Currently, TGA-approved vaccinations include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

Recently, Australian universities have announced vaccine mandates for students. The University of Melbourne has made it a requirement for everyone on campus to be vaccinated from November 5. Monash University — one of Australia’s Group of Eight universities — also announced it would make vaccinations mandatory for staff, students and visitors, including contractors, who attend its Australian campuses or offices.

La Trobe University said from early December, anyone attending campus — including staff, students, contractors and visitors — will be expected to be fully vaccinated. Other Australian universities are reportedly mulling vaccine mandates and are conducting surveys with students and faculty members about attitudes to jab mandates.

Specific details about the cost of the New South Wales pilot is still being finalised but costs associated with travel and quarantine will be borne by education providers, while returning international students can expect to cover flight costs. 

While a small group of international students will be able to enter New South Wales borders, Australia is in the midst of developing its digital vaccine passport which would capture travellers’ information such as their vaccination status.