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After one of the world’s largest lockdowns, Australia will be opening its borders for international students from December 1. International students contribute AUD 31 billion, annually to the Australian economy. From  December 1, fully vaccinated student visa holders will be eligible to arrive in Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. The government says the return of international students to Australia will “further cement our economic recovery”.In a joint statement from the prime minister, minister for Foreign Affairs, minister for Home Affairs, and minister for Education and Youth, Minister for Women, the government said the program is consistent with the National Plan to safely reopen Australia.

“These changes will ensure we continue to protect the health of Australians, while reuniting families and securing our economic recovery by opening our border to skilled and student visa holders,” they said.To be eligible to return, students must be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine, provide proof of vaccination status and hold a valid visa. Additionally, they will need to provide a negative PCR test taken within three days of departure.

Seven days must have passed since the final dose of vaccine for students to be considered vaccinated.

Arrivals must also comply with quarantine requirements in the state or territory where they are headed. NSW, Victoria and the ACT have quarantine-free arrival plans for students. Victoria was the latest state to announce quarantine-free travel – which it did on November 20 – for students who can demonstrate they meet vaccination conditions.

Universities Australia said it is seeing an increasing trend towards no quarantine for fully vaccinated students.

“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back, it’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,” prime minister Scott Morrison said.

“It’ll mean a lot for the economies of our country who need those workers and want to see those students return.”