International tertiary students will soon be allowed back onto campuses in Australia's New South Wales (NSW), if a state government proposal announced on Thursday gains federal approval.
The students, who have been blocked from entering Australia during the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, are usually a major source of revenue to the NSW economy, with the sector estimated to have been worth A$14 billion ($11 billion) in 2019, reports Xinhua news agency.
Overseas students are still enrolling at Australian universities but are studying online from their home countries.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said international students' education was the state's second most valuable export and "we need to do what we can to help students return and revive this sector as quickly as possible".
Under the NSW government's pilot plan, 250 international students would arrive in the capital city of Sydney each fortnight from mid-year.
The students would be in addition to the 3,000 returning Australians allowed back into NSW each week.
The students would then go into quarantine at specially approved accommodation at no cost to taxpayers.
The proposal has been made after several months' collaboration with the NSW Vice-Chancellor's Committee, one of the state's senior academic groups.
"This program has carefully considered the personal, social and academic aspects of our students, to ensure they successfully resume their studies and re-join NSW's vibrant, multicultural community as soon as possible," said committee member Professor Barney Glover.
Council of International Students president Belle Lim was also encouraged to learn that the plan has been submitted for federal review.
"We are so happy to see that international students will be welcomed back to NSW, and it sends a great message to those studying online offshore that there is hope that things will return to normal again," Lim said.
The final decision on the plan will be made by the federal Education Minister Alan Tudge.
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