Wellcamp to welcome first guests as international students return in new year

Queensland plans to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated international students in time for the first semester next year.

Oct 26, 2021, updated Oct 26, 2021
International students are set to return to Queensland universities  (Supplied)

International students are set to return to Queensland universities (Supplied)

Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says up to 250 international students will be allowed to fly into Queensland per week and quarantine at the state’s facility at Wellcamp, near Toowoomba, which is still under construction.

He says the plan needs federal government approval with state also asking for international flights to be permitted to land at Wellcamp Airport.

“I’m pleased to announce today that we’ve taken the next most important step in welcoming international students back to Queensland,” Hinchliffe told parliament.

“Our Queensland student arrival plan has been sent to the federal government for approval. This will see the return of international students to study in Queensland in 2022.”

The minister said initially 250 students would arrive per week, but that would be scaled up as time went on.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the decision is a win-win.

“This is why we went it alone to make Wellcamp a reality,” the Premier said.

“It gives Queensland an opportunity other states don’t have.”

The decision is a lifeline for the state’s universities. Before the pandemic, Queensland’s international education sector was worth an estimated $5.8 billion.

The Wellcamp facility is under construction at Wellcamp Airport.

Students studying medical research and allied health degrees will be prioritised, Hinchliffe said, so they can potentially back up the state’s health system after it reopens the borders.

Hinchliffe said if the federal government does not approve international flights landing at Wellcamp, students will be bussed there from Brisbane Airport.

Only fully vaccinated students will be allowed to enter Queensland from overseas under the plan.

“This is important for us to do until we have higher vaccination rates amongst Queenslanders,” Hinchliffe said.

“We don’t know if and when mutation number five will arrive, but our best defence is vaccination.

“That’s why we’re urging all Queenslanders to get double-vaxxed for themselves, for their family and their communities.”

Hinchliffe said there were more than 20,000 international university students currently enrolled in Queensland, who have been undertaking online education in their 160 home countries.

He said the sector delivered $5.8 billion to the economy and supported 27,500 jobs annually

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