International Student Return Options

Date —

30 Jun 2020

Industry Sector/s —
◾ International Education

Summary —

The new arrangements that have allowed a small number of international students to return to Australia to take-up their studies are so cost-prohibitive that they are out of the reach of the independent higher education and vocational education and training sector. That’s why the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), thanks to the great support of its members, its actively working with government to put in place an expanded program that will see a greater number of students return within public health guidelines.

Key Issues —

Australia’s international education sector is worth around $40 billion annually to the Australian economy and greatly enriches the cultural diversity within many local communities; however, it’s a sector that’s been decimated as a result of border closures put in place to contain the Covid-19 crisis.

A small number of students are being allowed to return to large public universities, a welcome first step to getting the international education sector back on its feed and allowing students to complete their studies. The challenge is that the arrangements associated with this, which include the university chartering aircraft and housing students during a mandated quarantine period upon their entry into Australia is prohibitively expensive for independent providers in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors. 

ITECA has been actively working with the Australian Government and state / territory governments on the framework in which international students may be able to return. The present policy dynamics are such that it’s the state / territory governments that must present a cohesive plan to the Australian Government for approval.

“With the great support of ITECA members, we working with state and territory governments on a plan to help overseas students commence their studies with independent tertiary education providers. Talking to stakeholders across the sector, it’s clear that this outcome is as important to students as it is to independent tertiary education providers,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

ITECA’s policy advocacy activity has also seen a number of discussions with the Australian Government on student visa issues. Here, ITECA has been working to progress an agenda shared by key stakeholders including Universities Australia.

Independent providers in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sectors have, in past years, supported more than 200,000 international students studying in Australia.

Member Engagement —

ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA International Education Reference Committee.  ITECA Membership – It's a great time to get involved.

Further Information —

For more information on this issue please send an email to or telephone 1300 421 017.  Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at

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