Unseen casualties of COVID-19: uni students returning to school abroad | campus.sg

via ABC

This month marks the return of students to universities across Australia and New Zealand, but with the coronavirus travel ban in effect, students from China face a difficult decision: return to school but not attend classes for 14 days, or transfer to another university in another country. For both student and university, it’s a major decision that could impact their future.


Since February 1, Australia has put temporary bans on foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival. This would impact the roughly 100,000 Chinese students – according to the latest figures from the department of home affairs – who already have Australian student visas and were planning on commencing their studies this month.

The impact of the drop in students may affect the university staff, many of whom are temporary and could easily be sacked if student numbers decline.

Some universities are making concessions to their students. Monash University would delay its semester by one week, until 9 March, while the University of Sydney has extended the period that students can enrol by two weeks – until 9 March, and will let affected international students to defer their studies for the semester. The University of Melbourne isn’t delaying semester, but are considering special arrangements.

New Zealand

Chinese students make up roughly half of all foreign students studying at New Zealand’s universities, and the current travel ban (placed on February 2) means that students traveling from or transiting through mainland China aren’t able to get into the country for the start of the academic year. What’s more, orientation week is just around the corner.

Elsewhere in the world

On January 31, the US government announced it wouldn’t let any foreign nationals flying from mainland China into the country. However, due to the fact that universities were in session during the coronavirus outbreak, it isn’t seeing the impact that Australian or Kiwi schools are facing.

So far, the UK has placed no travel bans on travellers from China.

Related: Rise of Chinese students overseas raises issues on free speech