COVID-19 UPDATE: Australia to Welcome Fully Vaccinated International Students on December 15, 2021
Many foreign students have been longing to enter Australia since the country’s borders were restricted. But because of uncertainties, some changed plans and opted to study in Canada, UK, or US instead.
Australia’s government hasn’t dropped a date for reopening, until recently. Although the original plan faced an unexpected turn―moving the reopening from December 1 to 15, the fact that the government had already laid a distinct period for further easing of border restrictions gave a great deal of reassurance to a lot of international students.
Why Was the Reopening of International Travel to Students Pushed Back?
The emergence of the new variant “Omicron” caused the Australian Government to delay the next phase of border reopening. It was on November 22, 2021, when the Prime Minister released the most awaited announcement. However, COVID’S new and fast-spreading variant led to a quick turn of events and caused the delay for reopening.
In Light of Easing Border Restrictions for International Students
On December 15, 2021, fully vaccinated international students and temporary graduate (subclass 485) visa holders can enter Australia without the need for an exemption to travel. You are considered “fully vaccinated” when you have received the complete dose of the following brands:
Bharat Biotech Covaxin
Johnson & Johnson
In the absence of the exemption, a negative PCR test and an accomplished Australian traveler declaration form indicating your vaccination status and confirmed state and territory requirements are still needed.
The government’s protocols may change drastically, especially with the presence of the new variant. Keep posted by checking this link regularly.
Are There Any Guarantees to the New Reopening Date?
According to 7news.com.au, health minister Greg Hunt failed to make guarantees about the easing of border restrictions this mid-December 2021. It’s safe to say that the end to the pause will still depend on Australia’s take to the latest variant, considering the government’s readiness and safety levels in dealing with the recent challenges.
How Is Australia Dealing With COVID?
Australia claimed to hold a track record in dealing with its active cases and in keeping the fatality rates low. As for the vaccinated population, nearly 90% have already completed the full dose, making it one of the countries with the highest vaccination rates.
There were delays, however, to the country’s immunization program. According to bbc.com, critics say the main reason why the border ban was stringently placed was the slow vaccine roll-out and the residents’ skepticism about the vaccine.
Thoughts From the International Students
A lot of controversies were raised due to the strict border policies that not only prevent the entry of foreign nationals but the movement of Australian citizens as well. State lockdowns were implemented making it extremely difficult for families to reunite.
As for international students, you can see mixed reactions over the internet. Some say they made the right decision switching to a different country, while others are still eager to start their studies in the country.
But what really sounds frustrating is the growing costs students face. Many have booked their flights after the announcement of the reopening, but with the recent changes, students can only hope for a full refund of the tickets and fees. More and more students have also started to express a lack of trust and confidence in Australia’s border policies and viewed the last-minute pause to be irresponsible and heartless.
Because of the delays, online learning continues to be another option for international students. Although, according to studyinternational.com, Oscar Zi Shao Ong, national president of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), says that the alternative has caused mental health concerns and reduced quality of education.
International students can face many uncertainties these days. Government policies had been constantly changing and you can only keep yourself informed and adapt to what’s about to happen. Fortunately, study abroad and immigration professionals are here to keep you abreast of everything going on between the schools and the country you choose to pursue.