The ACT Government has approved a pilot which would see hundreds of continuing international students safely returning to Canberra to complete their studies and help boost the ACT's $1 billion international education sector under a nation-leading joint initiative with the University of Canberra (UC) and The Australian National University (ANU).
The plan will see a charter flight carrying up to 350 students arrive at Canberra Airport in July for semester two with the returning students quarantined in hotels for a fortnight before returning to class.
The Prime Minster has described the pilot proposal as excellent, and we are now awaiting formal approvals from the Commonwealth Government.
Final details of the proposal are being worked through with the Universities, but strict protocols will be in place for their flights, transfers and supervised quarantine.
The ACT has already safely overseen repatriation flights into Canberra Airport with passengers safely transferred to hotels and quarantined with the supervision of local authorities.
The students in the trial will all be returning students who have previously studied in Canberra, but had their return delayed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Students considered for the pilot will be older students, for example those studying research or postgraduate courses, honours students and those in the final year of their undergraduate degree.
Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor and President of The Australian National University said:
"Campus life is a really important part of the ANU experience.
"We miss our international students and the contribution they make to university life so we can't wait to welcome them safely back into our community.
"Canberra is such a welcoming place and I know our students are keen to come back here and pick up where they left off. This pilot is a great first step to bringing more of them back and boosting the social and economic life of our city."
Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra said:
"This pilot program shows what Canberra can achieve with a supportive government and a collaborative higher education sector to bring our valued students back on campus to complete their education.
"We are one of the safest cities in one of the safest nations in the world and we are pulling out all stops to welcome back our continuing international students back to campus - and to the vibrant Canberra community - as soon and as safely as possible."
More information about the pilot program and how to apply will be passed on to eligible students in coming weeks.