University works on safe return to campus

University of Newcastle Ourimbah Campus

Vice Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Alex Zelinsky, has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement to allow a small number of international students to return to NSW before the end of the year.

“While it’s too early to discuss specific details, we hope it’s not too long before we see international students start to return to our campuses when the Public Health Orders permit,” Zelinsky said.

Of the 33,822 students enrolled at the University of Newcastle, 5119 are international students.

Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, Professor Barney Glover, said after more than 18 months of planning and collaborative effort, they were delighted to see an incremental reopening of borders to international students.

“We will be ready to go once the lockdown in NSW ends,” he said.

“Universities continue to work closely with government on the logistics and we are following public health advice regarding the Delta outbreak,” Glover said.

He said international student arrivals would not impact on Australians looking to return home through Sydney.

“This pathway is industry led and funded, and it is important to note that students will be required to complete 14 days of quarantine in government supervised purpose-built student accommodation.

“We know the pilot is small scale, but it is a critical milestone that will allow us to test and refine our plans and processes before committing to a full return.

“We want to ensure a safe return for all our international students as well as keep our community safe.

“The pilot will be evaluated after the first two flights with the view to scaling up as quickly as possible thereafter,” Glover said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, said the staggered return of students was stage one of a pilot that would slowly expand and evolve, as vaccination rates continued to rise.

“The safety of the people of NSW is paramount and we are taking no risks.

“All participating students will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised COVID-19 vaccine, and strict quarantine protocols will be in place,” he said.

Harry Mulholland

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