The University of Wollongong is part of a pilot program which will see fully-vaccinated international students return by Christmas.
UOW is one of several universities who have signed up to the industry-funded pilot plan announced by the NSW Government today. Sydney, Newcastle, Macquarie and Western Sydney universities are also on board, as well as the University of Technology, Sydney, UNSW and some independent education providers.
The pilot plan which will see the phased return of fully vaccinated international students to NSW has been given the green light by the Commonwealth Government, with the first flight touching down by the end of this year.
Accommodation provider Scape will house the returning students for a 14-day quarantine in Redfern, at a building retrofitted to accommodate up to 650 students to COVID-safe standards approved by NSW Health and NSW Police.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the staggered return of students was stage one of a pilot that would slowly expand and evolve, as vaccination rates continued to rise in NSW and internationally.
"The international education sector sustains thousands of jobs across NSW, and I'm proud that NSW is leading the way with the return of international students to our shores," he said.
"The safety of the people of NSW is paramount and we are taking no risks. All participating students will be required to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised COVID-19 vaccine, and strict quarantine protocols will be in place.
"Importantly, this plan will not come at the expense of any Australian citizen or resident wishing to return home."
A UOW spokesman said the university welcomed and "wholeheartedly" supported the pilot program for the return of international students.
"UOW is pleased to have had the opportunity to have worked so closely with the rest of the NSW higher education sector, and with the NSW and Commonwealth governments, to facilitate this initiative."
The spokesman thanked the NSW Government for its "strong support for the higher education sector" and acknowledged the work of the NSW Vice-Chancellor's Committee.
"This important milestone brings UOW - along with other NSW universities - one step closer to welcoming back international students, many of whom face a pressing need to resume their studies onshore in Australia," he said.
"International students make valuable cultural and economic contributions to the communities in which UOW operates its nine Australian campuses.
"The different cultural perspectives they bring greatly enrich the diversity of campus life and all students' learning experience."
The UOW spokesman said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and well-being of students, staff and the communities in which it operated had been its highest priority.
"UOW is pleased that the arrangements announced today contain the necessary precautions to manage the return of international students while ensuring the safety of other students, staff and the wider community."
The first phase of the pilot plan is anticipated to bring back 500 international students to NSW on chartered flights, paid for by the students, by the end of the year.
Participating education providers will contact students to progress an expression of interest for the pilot plan.
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