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Friday, May 22, 2020, 17:56
Australia: 'Secure corridor' proposed for returning students
By Xinhua
Friday, May 22, 2020, 17:56 By Xinhua

Graduates are seen at the campus of University of Sydney, Australia, June 5, 2019. (BAI XUEFEI/XINHUA)

Eight Australian universities have proposed a "secure corridor" that would allow international students to enter the country.

Under the plan put to federal and state governments by the Group of Eight, a coalition of world-leading research intensive universities, students from some countries would be able to return to Australia while subject to strict health checks and quarantine requirements.

Eligible source countries would be those that have sustained low infection rates, high testing rates and an ability to respond to outbreaks.

Eligible source countries would be those that have sustained low infection rates, high testing rates and an ability to respond to outbreaks

Students would be subjected to rigorous health checks and go into quarantine on arrival in Australia, which they would pay for themselves.

"International students are keen to return to Australia to either continue or commence their tertiary studies," the Group of Eight (Go8) proposal published by Nine Entertainment newspapers on Friday said.

"Universities can and are committed to providing a fully facilitated safe-return process with the support of the government."

READ MORE: Australia universities brace for economic fallout from travel ban

More than 100,000 international students enrolled in Australian universities have not been able to enter the country because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

Universities Australia in April revealed that universities would lose up to 4.6 billion Australian dollars (US$3.02 billion) in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Andrew Norton, a higher education expert from Australian National University and a Go8 member, 27 percent of university spending is funded by international student fees.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of the Go8, said while domestic students were the immediate priority, universities must prepare to welcome international students "when the time is right."

ALSO READ: Australian varsities, associations defend Confucius Institutes

"Whilst we are optimistic that this framework might assist governments to look at a possible small scale re-entry of our international students in some states in the next three to four months, realistically we would expect to see the bulk of our students back for semester 1, 2021," she said.

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