After one of the world’s longest and strictest COVID-19 lockdowns, Australia will finally be opening its borders for international students from the 15th of December, 2021 in a move welcomed by university students all over the world. International students contribute $31 billion to Australia’s economy each year.
This is a relief to students studying and wanting to study in Australia, including all SP Jain students. A significant chunk of students had given up hope of ever getting to go to Australia, some having opted for the Dubai campus of SP Jain instead and having given up their Australian visas after losing hope, especially the students in the 4th year.
The news was quite sudden, being announced in a press conference by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison that was broadcast on the 22nd of November, 2021, with another announcement delaying it from the 1st of December to the 15th. With this news, students have started looking into flights to fly out to Australia as soon as December hits. However, due to the news being quite sudden, the university and its management were taken aback, as many were considering the next semester to be online/Dubai again. With the new campus still being under construction and still having not gotten final approvals from the government authorities, the management was left with two decisions, either start the semester online or delay the semester till after the campus is ready. They ended up choosing the latter in a move that would’ve been met with controversy whichever option had they chosen. The next semester, while beginning in January for Mumbai, Singapore, Dubai, and online, begins in March for Sydney, to get the new campus up and running.
There are a few confusions regarding the work rights for students in Sydney and the airlines for travelling, but most of these should be answered by the time December hits and the first batch of students come in. The sudden announcements also caused confusion amongst the state governments of Australia. New South Wales and Victoria, the states with the largest foreign student populations, had already devised pilot programmes to gradually repatriate overseas students before Morrison’s announcement. From early December 2021, the NSW plan was to enable up to 250 overseas students studying with state educational institutions to return every two weeks. By the end of the year, that number would have risen to 500 pupils every fortnight. Universities in both states were scrambling to organise specifics like prioritising students chosen for the programmes and chartered planes. These trial plans appear to have been supplanted by the Commonwealth’s removal of limitations on foreign travel. The current limitations of 250 per fortnight in NSW and 120 per week in Victoria will most likely be lifted. The major issue today is how long airlines will take to reach full capacity.
Either way, students are excited to be able to meet each other after a long period of isolation online, with friends both new and old finally being able to see each other. The online period, despite being difficult for many, was also a period of time when students from many different batches were able to come together via Zoom, ELO, Google Meets and other online calling options. Some of these friends from different batches will be meeting each other for the first time now in Sydney, like the years 3 and 4 of the BBA curriculum.
Quite a few Year 4 students from the Dubai campus, despite having lost Australian work rights, plan to come to Sydney for their last semester to experience the Sydney student life for at least one semester before graduation. This is the first time a singular SP Jain batch will be graduating on two different campuses, not including online. Other students, like the Year 3s and students from BBC and BDS, will also be joining the Sydney campus once it opens. Later, Year 2 BBAs and Year 1 BDS and BBC students will finally be joining the Sydney campus as well the semester after.
Prominent SP Jain clubs and student life projects which originated in Sydney will finally be returning to Sydney after having shifted their base of operations over to online and Dubai. The Events Team, the Media Club, GirlUp Sydney and others will finally be coming back to Sydney while having used their experiences and new bases from Dubai, Online, Mumbai, and Singapore to grow and expand even further than they did pre-Covid.
Alan Tudge, the Australian Minister for Education and Youth tweeted, “We are opening borders to international students on 1 December. This is good for those students, good for the unis and good for our economy.”
I am excited to finally meet everyone in Sydney. This is another sign of the world slowly going back to normal after all the turmoil of the past 2 years. We deserve this. SP Jain deserves this. Australia deserves this. The world deserves this. Let’s pray there’s no more delays after the delay to the 15th.