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International students finally allowed to return to Australia

After 21 months, international students can finally return to Australia.

After 21 months, international students can finally return to Australia.

International students will still have to self-isolate for 72 hours upon arrival and can only arrive in states that welcome international arrive.

The opening of borders comes after the Australian Government reversed their open-border policy in early December due to confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

The sudden reversal in early December had stopped international students from flying to Melbourne in the first half of December. Akash Anil Nair, a third-year Bachelor of Arts student, who was supposed to return to Melbourne on 8 December, said the delay in border openings had left his future “up in the air”.

“It’s very sad … I had an internship lined up,” he said.

“I had been in Melbourne for two years prior [COVID-19], so my partner and friends are all in Melbourne … I was really looking forward to coming back.”

Separation with friends and partners for nearly two years due to border closure has left thousands of students, like Akash, in frustration. 

At the time however, those with International Students Arrival Plans (ISAP), fully vaccinated New Zealanders, and Singaporeans with a valid visa were able to fly into Australia under travel bubbles. 

Singapore permanent resident and Bachelor of Science graduate Nikhil Koura decided to travel back home for a family reunion and is planning to return to Australia by Semester 1, 2022, thanks to the Singapore-Australia bubble.

“I’m excited to go back. I’ve missed my mom and dad,” he said.

He sees the travel bubble as “a signal of a return to the normal”.

“I think that people are going to start to be able to breathe again,” he added.

“It will drive more international students to resume their studies in 2022.”

Preparing for the arrival of international students, the University of Melbourne has introduced Melbourne Welcome Grant, a single payment of $4000 to cover the cost of flight tickets, quarantine, adjustment to study and life in Melbourne. 

Although the University has moved into a delivery mode where it is possible to complete their degree online, international students like Rai Pranisha know that university life is “more than just the paper we get at the end of the day”.

“We are pursuing an overseas experience ... we obviously would like to partake in the culture of the city, the university,” said Rai.

“That’s something a lot of people missed out due to COVID.”

For international students, flying to Australia will be the first step they take to transition into COVID-normal.

 

Image provided by the University of Melbourne.

 
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