More than 31,000 Chinese students have returned to Australia after 14 days in a third country despite the government’s travel ban.
By traveling to a third country and self-quarantining for two weeks before coming to Australia, the students were able to meet the travel restrictions of the Home Office. After two weeks in a third country, those who have traveled from China can travel to Australia.
Home Office figures show that 31,196 Chinese students have arrived in Australia since mid-February. The students arrived at a rate of around 1000 a day The Sydney Morning Herald.
The ban on non-Australian citizens from China was first announced on February 1 to stop the spread of the coronavirus that started in the Chinese province of Hubei.
The virus has now infected over 126,000 people and killed more than 4,600 people. The travel ban for China was only slightly relaxed, with cases of 11th and 12th grade students being examined on a case-by-case basis. Travel bans have now been announced for other countries.
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A spokesman for the University of Sydney told news.com.au that the facility was providing support to students with counseling services and fee payment plans, and had set up a dedicated hotline to help students in a so-called “challenging time.”
“The outbreak of COVID-19 is evolving day by day, and the health and well-being of our employees, students, and the community remain our top priorities,” said a spokesman.
“We are considering a number of options to plan different scenarios and minimize risks.
“We also focus on supporting our students who stay in China until we can safely greet them on campus.
“This includes reviewing and testing our existing systems to ensure that online supported learning options are fully available, and helping staff and students use the technology to deliver courses that we currently offer online for our students in China or in the event that we have to shutdown partially or completely for a period of time.
“We won’t know how many of our students will be affected by the March 31 census, but we expect it could be as many as 12,000.”
The University of Sydney does not pay travel expenses to students quarantined in a third country, as news.com.au understands.
The Australian higher education system is supported by a large community of international students.
When the ban on non-citizens to travel from China to Australia was announced in early February, 106,000 Chinese students were at overseas universities in Australia.
The local education sector has been hard hit by thousands of full-fee international students blocking entry to the country.
In response, some institutions, including the University of Melbourne, the University of Adelaide and Western Sydney University, have offered affected students grants of up to $ 7,500 to circumvent the travel ban.
A Chinese student said it spent almost $ 20,000 traveling from China to Thailand to quarantine itself and make it to their classes at the University of Sydney.
Law student Karen Ji previously said in an interview with the BBC that the ban felt like a “betrayal of our international students”.
“Chinese international students form the largest international group for the (Australian) education industry – we donate so much money to Australia every year,” said Ms. Ji.
The travel ban for non-nationals in China was implemented on February 1 and has not been relaxed since then. Australian and permanent residents, as well as their partners and spouses, can travel from China, but must be quarantined for 14 days.
Similar travel bans have now been extended to Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea.
On February 22, the travel ban for mainland China for 11th and 12th grade students was eased slightly. These students are now being examined on a case-by-case basis.