First foreign students since border bans leave quarantine
AUSTRALIA'S first cohort of international students, since COVID-19 began shutting down down borders, has been released from quarantine at Howard Springs.
The 63 students will study at Charles Darwin University, undertaking a range of courses from PhDs, IT and engineering.
The students have come from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia, and all paid their own way to Darwin on a chartered plane.
Francios Brassard of Canada, had been living in Hong Kong when the pandemic swept across the globe.
He was already looking to study his PhD in biology at CDU when he applied to join the pilot program, two weeks before the plane was due to leave Hong Kong.
"At this point I had to choose between either coming back home for an extended period of time, and then being stuck there for perhaps half a year, even a year. The studies where a high priority so I decided to come here, but yes, I may not be able to go home for a while," he said.
He said being able to study in the Top End was ideal given the diversity of sea life just off the coast.
CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said there had been months of negotiations with the Territory and Federal Governments ahead of the students touching down in Darwin.
"We have submitted plans to commence additional flights from January next year right through to the middle of next year, and we'll continue to progress those plans but ultimately that is up for government approval," he said.
He said the pilot program has not impacted on the Government's program of bringing stranded Australians home - stressing the students were additional to the allowed quota of returning Aussies.
He said universities across Australia had been in contact to work out how best they could get their own international students into the country, as the international higher education market heats up.
"We're very fortunate in Australia to continue to have a strong profile of well controlled and well contained COVID management, so I think Australia must remain a very popular destination for many students," he said.
Originally published as CDU welcomes Australia's first foreign students since border closures