South Australia government stands firm on its decision to welcome back international students next month, as part of Australia’s first such pilot program despite criticism from the Opposition, as well as Australian citizens and permanent residents stranded offshore.

Highlights:

  • South Australia government says it is yet to decide where the students will come from
  • After China, India is among the biggest source of international students for SA 
  • Nearly 6,600 of Australia’s international students are stuck in India due to the coronavirus-border closure

At least 300 international students will be flown into Adelaide from Singapore next month, under the national pilot plan to help the state’s $1.9 billion international education industry get back on its feet.

Like all repatriated Australians, the shortlisted students will be subject to mandatory quarantine in the state’s medi-hotel facilities for two weeks and will be tested for coronavirus on days one and 12.

An SA government spokesperson told that the following factors will be taken into consideration while shortlisting the students:

– “Course requirements and study streams where face to face and practical learning or placements are paramount to the completion of the specific degree.”

– “Where South Australia’s international students were located when the borders closed, and the airline partner’s approved ports of departure.”

However, it is not clear which source countries will these shortlisted students come from.

Is India on the list?

Outside of China, India is the next biggest source of overseas students for South Australia.

Nearly 7,000 of the country’s international students are currently stranded in India due to the coronavirus-prompted border closure, but it’s not clear how many of them study in educational institutions based in SA. 

On questioned which countries would be included in the list, the SA government spokesperson said the “exact final numbers and country of origin of students are yet to be finalised.”

“We are working with the universities to make sure the pilot program is open to students from a diverse range of countries,” said the spokesperson.

With more than 2.7 million confirmed cases, India has the third-largest COVID-19 caseload in the world, after the US and Brazil.

Talking about the prospects of the return of Indian international students, Punjab-based education consultant Navjot Singh said their fate largely rides on the success of the initial pilot plan. 

“India is a crucial market for Australia, but it cannot be ignored that it is currently a high-risk zone as far as the coronavirus outbreak is concerned.

“However, we suspect that while Indian students may not return in the initial flights, they will be factored in eventually in the subsequent flights, as we are a large source of student intake for many states, including SA,” he said.