State to fast-track return of international students
Gladys Berejiklian wants to lift border bans on foreign students in a bid to save regional universities and towns that rely on the sector for jobs and economic activity.
The Premier has outlined a plan and has been working with all levels of government behind the scenes to transition the current two-week hotel quarantine system to a health checkpoint for international students.
The NSW government estimates foreign students are worth $13.9 billion to the economy and support 95,000 full-time jobs - with the contribution considered even more crucial in the absence of international tourism.
The Premier does not anticipate the taxpayer would foot the bill for foreign students in the same way they have for returning Australian citizens to be kept in hotel quarantine.
"International students are critical to our economy," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Regional universities won't survive unless they can get some of their students back. We are contemplating how we can accelerate that."
THE KICKSTART WISHLIST
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously identified considering a return of international students in stage three of his road map to reopening the country.
Ms Berejiklian said she was particularly concerned about the impact of the loss of students in two NSW regional universities - Charles Sturt and Southern Cross - saying any plan for returning students would likely incorporate a "quota" for the regions.
"The universities have had to shed jobs and wages - and there are country universities which are phenomenal and I'm particularly worried about the impact on those universities in the regions," she said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Wednesday indicated he was open to working with universities on plans to "look at means of bringing back supervised, stringent quarantined international students".
While the University of Sydney will on Thursday release economic analysis which finds the NSW economy risks the loss of 12,110 jobs because of plunging international enrolments, Southern Cross Uni will announce $15,000-a-year scholarships to lure foreign students already in Australia to relocate to its campuses in Lismore or Coffs Harbour.
University of Sydney management student Abhishek Handa, who moved to Sydney from India, said he hopes international students will be given the chance to study in Australia when the restrictions on international travel ease.
"The education system here is one of the best around the globe," he said.
Originally published as Premier to fast-track return of international students