International students to return to Queensland

— 27 Oct, 2021 —

International students to return to Queensland

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the return of international students to study in Queensland in 2022. International students arriving in Queensland will be the first to use the Regional Quarantine Facility at Wellcamp, Toowoomba.

The Premier said Wellcamp provides the perfect solution so that the students do not displace returning Australian citizens and residents.

There are two other conditions:

  • A proportion of students must study at universities outside of Brisbane
  • Priority will be given to medical and health students

The Premier said the decision is a win-win.

“This is why we went it alone to make Wellcamp a reality,” the Premier said.

“It gives Queensland an opportunity other states don’t have.”

The decision is a lifeline for the state’s educational institutions and business operators who rely upon international students, particularly for those in Cairns. Cairns is chosen for study by over 25,000 international students from over 34 countries (pre-Covid-19) each year, along with domestic students who choose to study away from their Australian home base

Before the pandemic, Queensland’s international education sector was worth an estimated $5.8 billion.

The Wellcamp facility is under construction at Wellcamp Airport.

Tourism, Innovation and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said students had been studying offshore. 

“While remote learning has made it possible for students to continue Queensland university studies from their home countries, we recognise it isn’t a sustainable, long-term substitute for to face-to-face tutorials and practical experience.

“We also know international students make an important contribution to the culture of Queensland cities and our regions.

“International students are an important source of workers for many businesses in Queensland’s regional and metropolitan areas.

“The absence of international students has been particularly felt in the rural, hospitality and tourism industries.”

Mr Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government had sent Queensland’s Student Arrivals Plan to the Federal Government in response to the Commonwealth’s Protocols and Preconditions for International Student Arrivals. 

“Queenslanders have worked hard on managing the health impacts of this pandemic and our number one priority remains their safety,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“One of big lessons from the pandemic is Covid-19’s unpredictable ability to mutate.

“So far there are four dominant variants, and we don’t know if and when there could a fifth, which is what makes Wellcamp and its proximity to an international airport critical to our International Student Arrivals plan.  

“This plan is the first phase of scaling up from semester one and seeing more students return to Queensland over time.” 

Professor Sandra Harding, Vice Chancellor and President of James Cook University, and Chair of the Queensland Vice Chancellor Committee, said the sector had worked collaboratively with the State Government.

“We are delighted the State Government has progressed plans to bring back international students,” Professor Harding said.

“These students have been studying online for almost two years waiting to return to Queensland and many of them need to undertake important practical assessments to complete their studies.  

“International students are such a vibrant part of all of our campuses and communities, and we look forward to welcoming them back to our state.”