18 June 2020
The University of Canberra is joining with the Australian National University for a nation-leading initiative that will return hundreds of continuing international students safely to Canberra to complete their studies.
The ACT Government has approved the pilot plan, which would also help boost the ACT’s $1 billion international education sector.
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. Final details of the proposal are being coordinated with both Canberra universities, however strict protocols will be in place for their flights, transfers and supervised quarantine.
While the plan has the backing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the pilot is awaiting formal approval from the Commonwealth Government.
University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Paddy Nixon, said Canberra was an ideal location for the pilot program.
“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,” said Professor Nixon.
“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.”
Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University, echoed the sentiments.
“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,” said Professor Schmidt.
“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.”
The students in the trial will all be returning students who have previously studied in Canberra, who have 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.