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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Universities pause plans for returning international students

The University of Canberra (UC) and the Australian National University (ANU) have postponed their plans to bring a charter flight of international students to the ACT.

The ‘Safe Passage’ pilot program was originally announced in mid-June, proposing an incoming chartered flight of 350 international students who had previously been studying at the two universities.

UC President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, said the program would be put on hold while the COVID-19 situation continued to unfold.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and the university communities and that of the broader community has always been our first priority,” he said.

“Given the ever-evolving circumstance of this global pandemic, we think it best to press pause on our plans to return a small number of our valued continuing international students who contribute so much to the vibrancy of our city and our campus.”

The original proposal aimed to fly students into the ACT during mid-July, enabling a sufficient 14-day quarantine period before the start of Semester 2.

Semester 2 is set to begin at ANU on 27 July, while UC does not start its second semester until 3 August.

ANU President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt, said the universities would still push the proposal forward at a later date.

“We have the support of the ACT Government and the Prime Minister has said the proposal is excellent. For both our domestic and international students, our most important focus is safety and wellbeing as well as student experience,” he said.

“We always said we would only undertake this program when it was safe for both our students, our campuses and the wider community. This is not an end to the program – just a delay – and we remain committed to ensuring out students can continue their studies back in Australia when the time is right.”

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