Help International Students return to Australia before 2021!

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During the unsettling time of study when COVID-19 had made its way down under to Australia, international students have had to endure the extreme stress of coping with academic stress, as well as their unstable mental well-being from being apart with their close friends and family abroad. As if their short stay in Sydney has not been bumpy enough, after meeting with the National Cabinet on April 3rd 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a statement telling visitor, visa holders and international students that the time has come for them to return to their home countries unless they are international visitors that have “critical skills” which could be exempted. This was based on Morrison’s priority being placed on Australian citizens and residents to maximise the economic support that they have. However, an important sector Morrison has neglected is the education sector which is part of the Australian economy supported heavily by international students- worth $39 billion last year. It is estimated that universities could lose up to $19 billion over the next three years after the decision of leaving international students offshore, lowering the international student numbers. Not only do international students help with the economy, but they also volunteer, contribute to Australia’s cultural diversity and enhance international standing. With such a large amount of international students supporting the Australian economy, it is unfair that they are left hanging without any specific plans. This pandemic has a global impact, however other universities around the world has made a clear response as to whether students would return except for Australia. This is unfair on the international students who pay a much higher international fee, as well as obviously neglecting the guidance which would help them during such a difficult time for everyone. 

Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne, it is of no doubt that the most googled searches are within the lines of when can internationals return to Australia? Why is that? Because every hopeful international student was clinging onto the news prior to the outbreak that they were going to be welcomed back into the country to proceed with their studies, and attempt to carry on their lives co-existing with the pandemic while front-line healthcare workers help fight this battle. 

To make matters worse, the outbreak in Melbourne that first occurred on 29th June that has now led to Stage 4 lockdown - “state of disaster” has identified one of the major sources of the virus escalation being linked with the lack of security measures for Melbourne’s quarantine hotels, particularly security guard’s infection control breach linked with sex scandals which has now become a national joke. And what were the consequences of this? The loss of health security and safety of Melbournians, the rest of Australia, and many’s jobs and freedom. Not neglecting the price international students had to pay for losing their final hope of the original pilot scheme that supposedly could bring back up to 350 international students from the Australian National University and the University of Canberra which were the first universities to take up the national cabinet’s plan to fly back to Australia in July. Almost 3,4000 students were enrolled in the pilot program which could potentially open doors for the rest of the international students, but this plan has now been shelved, and paused indefinitely. 

Many times, international students try to keep an open-mind during a critical time like this, but although it is easy to say that, it is often easier said than done. The problems therefore also extend further to one’s social wellbeing and mental health being apart from loved ones and the constant insecurity of future plans. It is also particularly hard being surrounded by people around the world that would soon return back to their universities to continue with their education in the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Europe to name a few. 

Please help by signing this petition so that more attention and support can be given to international students who are currently feeling abandoned and left unattended by the prime minister