The Northern Territory government has announced the plan to assist some 70 students flying from the island city-state to arrive in the country in October.
The regional government is working with Charles Darwin University on the project, with flights priced at around AUD$2,500. It is not yet clear whether students or the institutions will pay for the flights, according to numerous reports.
Priority will be to safely quarantine students “so that we don’t put anyone at risk”
“We have a lot of international students here. Over the last four years, we grew international student numbers from just over 1,000 to 2,500 … I don’t think we could get 2,500 in,” NT chief minister Michael Gunner told ABC Radio Darwin.
“We are working with the Australian government around getting back into the next lot of term — how do we do that safely and make sure the economy keeps ticking, basically, but do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone?”
Students will be quarantined at a facility in Howard Springs in Darwin under the plans, and priority will be to safely quarantine students “so that we don’t put anyone at risk”, Gunner added.
“Anyone coming in from overseas and into Darwin and into that quarantine facility will do so in a scheduled way between the Australian government and the Territory government, bringing them in and making sure we keep Territorians safe,” he said.
Speaking at a Northern Territory Study webinar, director of Study Northern Territory at the NT government, Rachael Shanahan, said the region is “Australia’s doorstep to Asia and Asia doorstep to Australia as a whole”.
“The Northern Territory is the first jurisdiction to host a student pilot, and we’re very excited about that,” she noted.
Hey it’s a start!
Congratulations to everyone involved in this great NT initiative – it’s going to be a tonic for our beleaguered sector! https://t.co/DEwk0bY1uA
— Phil Honeywood (@PhilHoneywood) September 28, 2020
The 70 students are expected to come from China, Malaysia and Singapore, however, there is no exact date for the charter flight as of yet.
“Providers across the board – higher education, private VET institutions – have been as compassionate as possible, with students looking at different ways to extend out payment plans and waiving payment plans,” she said.
Students have also been provided with food “to help them through a very difficult time”, she added.
“Charles Darwin University is currently in discussions with the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Government in relation to a pilot program which may bring a cohort of international students to Darwin, if approved,” a spokesperson for CDU said.
“More information will be made available once all details are known.”