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First international students return to Canberra following COVID-19 pandemic

Elly Mackay

12 January 2022: The first cohort of international students to return to the University of Canberra and Australian National University since Australia’s borders reopened arrived in Canberra over the weekend, marking a milestone moment for both institutions.

The students – six from the University of Canberra – landed at Sydney Airport from China on Sunday, completed a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in line with ACT Health advice, and were then transported by charter bus to their student accommodation. The students will spend the coming weeks preparing for the upcoming semester.

“We are of course delighted to welcome all of our international students back to our campus,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Geoff Crisp said.

“This particular group represents many of our ongoing students who have spent the past two years studying remotely overseas, waiting to return to Australia – and the UC campus.”

Students were greeted at the airport by representatives from the two universities, as well as Study NSW staff, as they returned under the NSW program.

“This international student return is something we have been working toward for a long time, so I would like to thank all our partners and those who made it happen,” Professor Crisp said.

“I’m also incredibly proud of our entire international cohort, who have had faith that they’d be able to return and have stuck it out – it’s testament to their resilience and persistence in these trying times.”

Master of Physiotherapy student Yejun (Rella) Wang was one of the students who arrived in the first cohort, and said she was excited to be back on campus after leaving in 2019 for what was intended to be a short trip home.

“I am grateful to everyone involved in the plan to help us get back to campus and to continue our study,” Ms Wang said.

“For the last two years, it’s been a tough time for me – I couldn’t attend online courses and I stopped studying completely.

“But every time I received an email from my course convenor, teachers, the Student Centre and the international student team, the help and support always encouraged me to remain hopeful and keep holding on.”

The group will resume their studies from the first week of Semester One, which commences on 7 February.