Overseas students could potentially fly in to return to study in NSW by October, in a bold plan welcomed by the education sector, The New Daily reports.
The NSW government is proposing to transform student accommodation in Sydney’s CBD into quarantine lodgings to restart its international education sector.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tertiary education was NSW’s second largest export, generating more than $14 billion annually.
Barney Glover heads a committee of all NSW university vice chancellors, which has worked closely with the state and federal government to develop the International Student Accommodation Quarantine Program.
“I think we can see students coming within six months and I’d hope to see students arriving certainly in the early part of the second half of this year,” Professor Glover said.
He said the program would be a “modest pilot” that aimed to fly in and quarantine about 250 students each fortnight.
“That’s very much a signal to our students offshore that we are moving now more rapidly toward an opportunity to welcome them back to Australia,” Professor Glover said.
The NSW government estimates it has lost a third of its international student base this year — and it may stand to lose more as students abroad grow impatient.
Stranded in Spain living with friends, PhD student Eva Mitgaard is hopeful the NSW Government’s quarantine program would be fast-tracked to enable her to recommence her studies in Australia after a year of remote learning.
“My research is being delayed by not being able to interact and be in Sydney where my research peers are,” she said.
National student accommodation provider Unilodge said NSW’s plans to return foreign students had provided some certainty.