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Australian Competition And Consumer Commission Gives Green Light To Student Plan

Australia’s consumer watchdog has granted two universities permission to liaise on the return of international students.

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian consumer watchdog has granted permission for New South Wales and ACT universities  to collaborate on the return of international students under the New South Wales government’s recently-announced pilot plan.

The New South Wales government last week cleared 250 international students to arrive in Sydney each fortnight. They will spend their quarantine period in purpose-built student accommodation.

Under the plan the first international students would touch down around August, the time semester two begins for most New South Wales universities.

The arrival of these students will be in addition to the 3000 returning Australians arriving in Sydney each week amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plan, which has been endorsed by New South Wales Health, New South Wales Police and all New South Wales universities, has been submitted to the federal government for review.

“This interim authorization will allow universities in NSW and the ACT to start working together immediately to implement a fair and efficient system to get these international students back to Australia,” said Rod Sims. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement on June 17 that it had authorized universities in New South Wales and ACT to collaborate on travel arrangements for returning students.

These arrangements will prioritize students who need to complete practical or on-site course components, the New South Wales said.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said the universities would allocate spots under the government’s cap based on their 2019 international student enrollments.

They will appoint a joint travel agent to source flights for students, who will be responsible for booking and paying for their flights.

“This interim authorization will allow universities in NSW and the ACT to start working together immediately to implement a fair and efficient system to get these international students back to Australia,” said Sims.

“Using the same travel provider will make the process simpler and easier for the universities, students and government agencies that handle international arrivals and quarantine arrangements.”

The NSW government last week cleared 250 international students to arrive in Sydney each fortnight. (Stanley Morales/Pexels)

New South Wales Health will triage arriving students and direct them to quarantine at approved student accommodation sites. This will occur regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet last week said the New South Wales education sector was worth AU$14.6 billion ($11.05 billion) in 2019 and directly supported more than 95,000 local jobs.

More than 250,000 international students typically study in New South Wales each year and future students could choose destinations such as the US, UK or Canada if New South Wales remains closed.

Perrottet said those countries were now aggressively courting foreign students.

“If we don’t act fast, students will turn to other overseas destinations, and it could take the sector decades to recover,” he said.

The students will be subject to the same New South Wales Police-overseen quarantine standards as returning Australians in hotels.

(Edited by Gaurab Dasgupta and Saptak Datta.)