CANBERRA : The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) on Friday urged the federal government to set-up a dedicated hotel quarantine system for international students.
The number of international students educating in Australia has fallen by more than 200,000 since the country's borders were closed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had previously announced that more than 40,000 Australians who remain stranded overseas would be given priority to return the country.
In a statement, the IEAA said it would "pay whatever it takes" to restart the lucrative international education industry, which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency. Under the IEAA proposal students would not take quarantine places from Australians.
"There's no reason why we can't have charter flights bringing these students in, walking them across the tarmac into separate quarantine facilities that are not going to be competing with the hotel quarantine for Australian returnees," IEAA Chief Executive Phil Honeywood told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
"The industry is prepared to pay whatever it takes for additional Australian Defence Force and for police to ensure that it all happens properly, with only one point of entry and one point of exit." Data released by Universities Australia in February revealed that the higher education sector lost A$1.8 billion in revenue in 2020 and cut more than 17,000 jobs.