Federal Budget Signals Plans for Gradual Return of International Students

On October 6th 2020 the Morrison Government handed down what surely must have been Australia’s most anxiously awaited budget; a budget which was required to account for past and future social and economic impacts resulting from the world-wide pandemic.

As with virtually every nation around the planet, Australia’s accepted way of life and its normal freedoms have been dealt a savage blow. Retailers have suffered enormously. Due to essential border closures the travel industry has been brought to its knees and with 120,000 international students currently “marooned” overseas, its previously thriving education sector is anxiously awaiting some promising news.

A subjective plan is on the agenda

With so many international students keen to return to Australia for resumption of their studies and with so many university places held pending their arrival, it seemed obvious that the dilemma would be addressed within the budget.

Indeed it was. Due to a plethora of unknowns during this era of COVID-19, such as the ability to control infections and the timing of an available vaccine, precise scheduling remained an impossibility but the budget papers did reveal that, although both inbound and outbound travel were anticipated to remain low through until the latter part of 2021, the government then assumed “a gradual recovery in international tourism.”

In his post-budget address and as reported by SBS Punjabi, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg summarised, “International travel, including both tourists and international students, is assumed to remain largely closed off until late next year and then gradually to return over time. And a vaccine, to be available around the end of 2021, is one of the assumptions in the budget.”

‘Small and phased’ pilot programs

Currently, the Commonwealth Government is in talks with certain states (initially South Australia and Northern Territory) regarding possible acceptance of restricted numbers of international students, travelling via Singapore into those states.

At this point in time though, no options are available for students enrolled elsewhere.

The emergence of these micro programs does at least demonstrate the government’s willingness to explore options although it strongly emphasises that health and recovery considerations will always be prioritised, above all else.

The doors will open as soon as it’s safe

With 120,000 international students keen to resume their studies and others keen to commence their studies; with educational institutions anxious to welcome them back and a government which is committed to resolution and recovery, as soon as it becomes safe to do so, there is absolutely no doubt that the problems facing international students will emerge very firmly in the national spotlight.

Keeping you informed

Immigration law is constantly evolving, as it adjusts to changing circumstances. In this current era it can appear complex or confusing but friendly guidance and professional assistance is available.

For more information on this or on any relating issues, contact the migration experts – Sellanes Clark and Associates – specialising in all immigration matters.