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
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.

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.

Teresa Layton Teresa Layton 12:40 pm 21 Jun 20

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

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

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

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 12:40 am 22 Jun 20

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

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.

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.

Fred Pilcher Fred Pilcher 12:09 pm 22 Jun 20

Totally irresponsible.

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.... 🙂

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