Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Australia has closed its borders for 18 months now, and is not allowing international students to return for their studies. I am one of the many students left in the lurch. I took admission last year but am still studying at home in New Delhi. Most of us have started our courses online and it's definitely not what we had wished for. We are paying a hefty amount for studying in Australia to do our master’s and PhD.
We felt hopeful after learning that several states were prioritising vaccination for students enrolled in universities abroad, but we can’t take advantage of that since the Australian government has not yet considered letting vaccinated students back into the country. We have also put forth the suggestion to let us quarantine in hotels upon arrival, but in vain.
A shared sense of frustration, mental stress, and uncertainty is felt by all Indian students studying in Australian varsities.
Before applying, there was no caution or warning given to us by the universities or the government that they would not be able to open the borders before a certain date. As time passed, we were told to continue classes online. International students, who are the main stakeholders in this issue, are not involved in the decision-making process.
"“We are seriously considering transferring out of Australia for the same reason. We cannot just sit here and endlessly wait for the Australian government to keep introducing pilot programs that never capitalise, and then maybe open the borders two years down the line.”" - Parv Jajodia
It is unfair for us to pay full fees, including services we aren’t using, when our entire education is online, and future uncertain.
"“I will be completing my second trimester in July online and I have already paid around Rs 15 lakh till now. Talking about online classes, my university lectures were quite seamless but sometimes, due to internet connectivity, I experienced class-drops and buffering during live sessions. Every day, I wake up early in the morning, sometimes at 4:30 am and sometimes 5:30 am. This has taken a toll on my physical and mental health.”" - Rahul Gupta
Last week, students decided to start an online campaign on Twitter using some hashtags like #LetUsBacktoAus. We also tagged Australian PM Scott Morrison and the Education Minister Alan Tudge. When the pandemic situation was better, there were protests at Jantar Mantar in February and early April. On 6 May, in response to student protests, Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell AO had said that students will be ‘welcomed back when conditions allow’. Recently, the Indian High Commission also reached out to students in India and asked them to fill a form with their visa and college details. The reason is unknown.
Students request the Australian government as well as the Indian government to lay out plan for the quick return of international students and provide us with a true timeline, so that the students who can’t wait for a long time can plan accordingly, and maybe move to other countries.
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