CANBERRA (XINHUA) - The apex body representing Australian universities has warned that excluding international students from entering the country will have detrimental effects.
Ms Anne-Marie Lansdown, the acting chief executive of Universities Australia, said on Tuesday (Jan 19) that without international students, the quality of Australia's future workforce and Australia's global standing would decline.
International students who have enrolled to study in Australian universities this year have not been able to enter the country as the federal government has prioritised the repatriation of more than 35,000 citizens and residents stranded overseas.
"The value of international students to Australia isn't just about funding for our universities or the contribution they make to the economy and jobs," Ms Lansdown told The Guardian.
"These students are the future corporate and political leaders of our nearest trading partners. They make an enormous contribution to Australia's influence in the world."
A charter flight carrying 63 international students from China, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia arrived in the Northern Territory under a pilot programme last November, becoming the first international students to arrive in the country since the borders were closed to all but citizens and residents in March 2020.
However, further flights have been put on hold as the government focuses on Australians who have not been able to return home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in November: "The challenges we have in getting Australians home means the ability to move and take international students back at this time through quarantine arrangements does not present itself.
"It's Australians coming home first."