U-turn at border allows international students to return
WA Premier Mark McGowan has flip-flopped on the state’s border policy, now allowing international students to travel to WA – good news for students and universities in Australia -Western.
McGowan had previously announced that the reopening of Western Australia’s border with the rest of the world on February 5, 2022 would be delayed due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
In a Facebook posthe said: “To allow hundreds or thousands of people infected with Omicron to fly directly to Perth from February 5, 2022, without testing, quarantine and public health measures, would cause a flood of COVID-19 in our State.
In a document – called Returning Students Directions (No 2) – released on Tuesday, the state government said returning international students are allowed to enter Australia and pass through Western Australia from other States. if they are fully vaccinated and agree to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“These guidelines set out the requirements that apply to returning students and are for the purpose of preventing the importation of COVID-19 into Western Australia and otherwise limit the spread of COVID-19 in Western Australia,” he said.
Returning international students must comply with several requirements, including:
- Provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or provide a medical exemption when entering the state
- Has access to “suitable premises” located within 200km of its point of entry into Western Australia
- Download a G2G Now app during quarantine
- Returning students must be tested on the first and 12th day of their quarantine
Failure to follow these instructions could result in a prison sentence of up to 12 months or a fine of up to A$50,000 for an individual or A$250,000 for a corporation, the document says. It is unclear if new international students can return to the state.
A policy reversal would be good news for students and universities in Western Australia
Universities in Western Australia were previously angry at McGowan’s announcement about delays in reopening state borders, lamenting they risk losing students to other states that remain open to students.
The Guardian reported that universities in Western Australia have been ‘thrown into chaos’ by the decision to keep the state border closed, which would continue to income bled while other states with open borders can receive stranded international students.
He said more than 30% of all international students studying in Western Australia – just under 7,000 – remained outside the country at the end of 2021.
A staff member at a major university who requested anonymity said the decision to delay the reopening of state borders had thrown the sector “into chaos”.
“Teachers had their inboxes full of panicked students,” he said. “Many students were already on their way and are experiencing distress and dislocation. But perhaps more importantly, why would an international student trust WA in the future as a study destination? »
According to Studies in Australia, there are five Western Australian universities in the state, in addition to a range of private higher education providers and TAFE institutes. The student population in Western Australia is approximately 134,000; 29% come from abroad.