by Nadia Maunsell
December 6th marks the date when international students will return to Australia. As long as they are fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine and approved for travel by the Australian government, they no longer need to quarantine.
This is the first group of international students to arrive in Sydney since international borders were closed in March 2020.
Under a pilot plan, NSW universities have organised for 500 international students to return on two chartered flights in December, with more expected to follow in 2022.
The universities include Australian Catholic University, Macquarie University, The University of Newcastle, USYD, UNSW, UTS, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University.
In the original plan, a Redfern facility was chosen to accommodate students over a two-week mandatory quarantine period, but that has since been scrapped by the NSW government.
It is unclear what will happen to the agreement between NSW universities and Scape, the private accommodation provider originally chosen to provide quarantine accommodation for international students.
Under the NSW pilot plan, international students who must undertake their studies on-campus have been prioritised.
That includes Emily Fan, a first-year postgraduate student from China who received a confirmed seat on the flight and will be studying at UNSW in 2022. She intends to stay in Australia for a year.
When asked what she was most excited for, she said: “I am looking forward to making new friends, returning to classes and having a normal graduation ceremony.”
Also from China, Aaron Wang is a second-year exercise science student who will be returning to study at USYD. To maintain the normal progression of his degree, the university requires that he return to practical classes from January 17th.
Despite this, he says: “I am really looking forward to the library and atmosphere of the uni.”
When asked what he thinks the greatest challenge will be, he said: “I am worried about any COVID-19 cases when I arrive in Sydney.”