Chinese ANU students keen to get back to Canberra

Dominic Giannini 22 June 2020 16

ANU will be one of the first Australian universities to receive international students since Australia shut its borders months ago. Photo: ANU.

International students have welcomed news of a pilot program from the ACT Government to bring 350 overseas students back to the Australian National University (ANU) and University of Canberra (UC).

Thousands of students were left in limbo overseas when the Australian Government closed its borders in March, having already shut its border to China at the start of February.

Jerry* – a third-year artificial intelligence student at ANU – has been stuck in China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and had to postpone his flights to Canberra because of the shutdown.

“I thought I would have a better chance and be able to see the world better in Australia, so I came to Australia,” he said, telling Region Media how eager he was to return to Canberra.

“ANU has been very helpful, they have got an online lab, I can [still] work with my tutors and go online for a video meeting one-on-one, but the internet here is kind of difficult.”

Jerry also needs to access specialised computer equipment for his studies which has impeded his research because labs are harder to access in China.

“I live far away from the laboratory and I need scientific computers to do coding and programming,” he said.

“If I want I can go to the lab here but I cannot do it every day like I could on campus.”

UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said the plan is to charter a flight from an Asia-Pacific country and bring currently enrolled international students back to Australia by mid-July.

Around 2800 international students from ANU and more than 400 from UC remain offshore.

An email from ANU to its international students who are stranded overseas has informed them that the universities are working together to bring a small number of them back through the pilot program.

ANU letter

A message to ANU’s international students informing them about the ACT’s pilot program. Photo: Supplied.

Jerry says he wants to be on the first flight to Australia and intends to sign up straight away so he can complete his studies and graduate from ANU, with only one-semester left for his degree.

The same isolation and health protocols would apply to international students under the scheme that were in place for the Australian residents who recently arrived in the ACT from India and Nepal.

Students will have to do a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, which will be paid for by the university. However, all students will need to pay for their own flights to Australia.

Australia’s border is likely to remain closed for tourists until at least 2021, Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said.

*Names have been changed for the purpose of this story.

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16 Responses to Chinese ANU students keen to get back to Canberra
Graeme Dunn Graeme Dunn 7:37 am 25 Jun 20

Not sure what the UC are thinking the international students are going to be doing while their here. My daughter is currently enrolled & doing a Midwifery course & has been advised that all subjects will be taken on line for the remainder of the year. Surely the university isn’t going to conduct face to face lessons & allow access to Labs for the international students only. Seems unusual that subjects are currently being undertaken on line & appear to be continuing this way for the remainder of the year, yet the university is hell bent on bringing students from who knows where, to Canberra so they can supposedly self isolate in their rooms for 14 days then study on line as they have been doing already. Seems like a huge health risk for no apparent gain for the students

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:29 pm 22 Jun 20

This is presumably being driven as much by the ACT Government as it is by the ANU and UC –

“Services exports are now a key driver of Canberra’s growth, particularly from the higher education and tourism sectors.” [2019-20 ACT Budget Paper No.3, section 1.1]

– and stories such as this are a potent reminder of the extent to which the broader ACT economy (not just the Universities) have come to rely on the overseas student trade –

Jodee Njeru Jodee Njeru 12:14 pm 22 Jun 20

Where's Zed when you need him!

    Jodee Njeru Jodee Njeru 8:56 am 25 Jun 20

    Neenie Baines I was being sarcastic. Admittedly it was hard to pick up.

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 8:58 am 25 Jun 20

    Jodee Njeru there needs to be a dedicated sarcasm font.... 🙂

Fred Pilcher Fred Pilcher 12:09 pm 22 Jun 20

Totally irresponsible.

Bahadir Cangar Bahadir Cangar 8:13 am 22 Jun 20

As Australian citizens we are not allowed to international travel. Non citizens entering to country does not make sense. It is not fair. I understand students wanting to come back. There are thousands of people in Australia wanting to go overseas and come back for so many reasons. Ignoring all these Australian citizens needs and allowing just students is nonsense. If travel to Australia is going to be allowed, it should be allowed to every one with special rules and precautions. This is discrimination.

    JC JC 3:20 pm 22 Jun 20

    I think your understanding of the restrictions placed on Austrlians leaving and entering the country is somewhat miss guided.

    As an Australian you can leave the country for good reason, some examples are working, to study and to live. You just need to apply for permission and show proof you are leaving on a semi permanent basis.

    As for coming back every Australian citizen and resident can return so long as they go into hotel quarantine for 14 days.

    The outbound restrictions are mostly target at tourism and short term business trips, which ordinarily make up the bulk of outbound travel.

Jim Jim Jim Jim 7:22 am 22 Jun 20

This comes from ANU in April:

One study from Hong Kong found the virus could be detected for 20 days or longer after the initial onset of symptoms in one-third of patients tested.

Another study from China found found the virus in a patients’ faecal samples five weeks after the first onset of symptoms.

But the detection of the virus doesn’t necessarily mean the person is infectious. We need more studies with larger sample sizes to get to the bottom of this question.

Jim Jim Jim Jim 7:05 am 22 Jun 20

It really shows how out of touch universities are with the community. They still receive significant taxpayer funds and should be listening to the community. Our borders in WA and QLD aren’t even open and Victoria is having a shocker. Wake up Mr Barr and don’t be pushed around.

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 12:40 am 22 Jun 20

This is totally irresponsible. What bright spark in government approved this? Madness.

Patrizia Berti Patrizia Berti 9:58 pm 21 Jun 20

This is really bad. We have seen a few times in Australia that 14 days quarantine is not sufficient. People have tested positive right after testing negative at the end of 14 days quarantine and mingling in the community

Aldith Graves Aldith Graves 9:13 pm 21 Jun 20

With the closedown of parts of Beijing due to an outbreak of COVID19, you’d wonder where the students will come from if they have to quarantine before travel. Good to get the HK students back soon & away from unrest.

Yes the corridors will need guards as students generally are not mature enough to do this on their own - just like returning Australians

Teresa Layton Teresa Layton 12:40 pm 21 Jun 20

Seeing what is happening in Victoria this is a stupid idea.

David Perkins David Perkins 11:36 am 21 Jun 20

Oh for sure 20yo's or thereabouts are going to stay in their room's for 2 weeks! Uni's must post 24/7 guards. Penalty for breach of quarantine: expulsion from Australia.

Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 11:17 am 21 Jun 20

Make sure they can't leave quarantine, we don't need to be Victoria.

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