Under the plan up to 250 students a fortnight will arrive on chartered flights
Universities will foot the bill for quarantine including security and accommodation
About 50,000 international students are waiting to return to NSW
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet today announced the pilot quarantine plan, which will initially see 250 students per fortnight quarantined in specifically approved student accommodation.
Mr Perrottet said that figure would increase to 500 students per fortnight by the end of the year and would not interfere with current hotel quarantine arrangements.
“Importantly not one returning Australian will not get a seat on a plane as a result of this plan,” he said.
“We will be running this alongside the 3,000 returning Australians that come into our hotel quarantine system every week.”
Before the pandemic, about 250,000 international students were studying in NSW — the state’s second-largest export.
Mr Perrottet said there were about 50,000 overseas students who were currently trying to get into NSW.
He said it would provide vital job certainty for 100,000 workers in the sector.
“This is a big win for the NSW economy.
“We believe that the cost to our economy since the pandemic began particularly related to the international students is around $5 billion and if we didn’t do anything that cost would grow by the end of next year to $11 billion.
“This is incredibly important because there is evidence particularly around the world in places like Canada, the US and the UK that are actively targeting this industry that NSW relies on so much.”
The NSW government has not revealed the exact location of the student quarantine facility, but Mr Perrottet said negotiations with the provider were being finalised.
He said the pilot program had been approved by NSW Health and NSW Police, and its proposal to the federal government had received “strong support back” and would be signed off on in the coming days.
The student quarantine system, including travel costs, accommodation and security, will be financed by the university sector, but Mr Perrottet said whether students were out of pocket for flights would be up to individual universities.
The first international students will arrive in NSW on chartered flights in the next six to eight weeks before the program later transitions to commercial flights.