The return of international students to Australia is on the horizon as reports state that the travel ban might be lifted in July. On Saturday, May 9th, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-step plan to exit the lockdown, which included students going back to their universities soon; nevertheless, with social distancing rules kept in place.
The PM shed light on the costs and steps of the social distancing process, stating that the government will make sure to revise all options to ensure the implementation of a successful plan.
“Issues of international students, you’ll note that it does come into the third step of the plan,” said Morrison. “We are open to that, and would be working with institutions to see how that could be achieved.”
The University of Sydney stated that they are discussing the best possible way to implement the plan with the government to overcome any hurdles that the current situation may result in.
A spokesman of Victoria University also advocated the plan to allow international students to return to the country.
“International students contribute significantly to the educational and cultural experiences on our campuses, and we would welcome initiatives that may support their travel to Australia.” He said.
Catriona Jackson, Universities Australia Chief Executive, welcomed the move to include international students in the face-to-face learning process again through step three of the exit plan. “We are keen to welcome all our students, from home and abroad, back to face-to-face teaching, but when it is safe to do so,” stated Jackson.
She further stated that the organization is working closely with the government to implement the best plan and ensure a smooth campus return for international students.
As a starting point, Jackson mentioned that universities are studying the return of face-to-face learning by focusing on small classes first. The early focus will be on classes that are difficult to incorporate online like labs.
Restarting campus learning instead of online learning will differ from one university and one class to another. All states and universities will adhere to the medical authorities’ guidance to guarantee the safety of their students and staff.