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Canberra universities plan to fly in international students

The University of Canberra (UC) and the Australian National University (ANU) have teamed up to bring 350 international students to the nation’s capital.

The pilot program will allow a charter flight of 350 returning international students to fly into the Canberra Airport and self-quarantine for 14 days before being welcomed back onto the university campuses.

UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said the universities were still confirming details of the program, including a departure location.

“What we are working towards is to fly students out in the middle of July, so they have sufficient time to self-isolate before we welcome them back onto campus,” he said.

“That gives us about four weeks to work with.

“We will know the departing location relatively soon, but we are still working on which carrier we will work with.”

The program has already received support from the ACT Government and is waiting on the tick of approval from the Australian Government.

Students will be required to apply for the program and will be selected based on demand, with priority going to students in postgraduate courses, honour students or those in their final year of study.

“We have 400 continuing students here at UC, and ANU have a significantly larger number than that,” Mr Nixon said.

“We will offer it out to all of those students and then prioritise based on who will get the most value out of returning to campus.”

Across the two institutions, there are over 2,500 international students who contribute to the ACT’s $1 billion international education sector per annum.

Mr Nixon said he was looking forward to seeing the returning students back on campus.

“We made a commitment to these students. They are returning Canberrans and we have a commitment to help them achieve their goals,” he said.

Australia’s international borders have been closed to non-citizens and non-residents since March this year.

Mr Nixon said the universities and the ACT Government would be taking every precaution to hold the program safely.

“Largely we have had supportive feedback but obviously there will be concern and we will listen to that when we are making all our decisions,” he said.  

“This is about the safety of our students and staff, and the safety of the wider community.”

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