NSW wanted to send international students to Tasmania to quarantine – but the state’s premier was having none of it

(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake, Getty Images)
  • NSW attempted to get Tasmania to accept its international students into the state’s quarantine system.
  • The move highlights the state’s increasing desperation to get international students back to universities, who generate $2.4 billion in income for the state’s 10 universities.
  • Only 130 new and returning international students entered Australia in October 2020, according to government data.
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NSW today attempted to find a new means to getting international students back to school in the state by asking Tasmania to quarantine students there, the ABC reported.

The request, made earlier today, highlights NSW’s increasing desperation to get international students back to universities, who generate $2.4 billion in income for the state’s 10 universities.

High fee-paying international students previously generated up to $10bn a year for the sector in fees and about $40bn for the Australian economy.

Earlier this morning, the Tasmanian government confirmed it was approached by the New South Wales Government to quarantine international students in the state.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told a Budget Estimates hearing his Government has been lobbying the Commonwealth to increase the student cap and is also looking at alternative proposals, one of which was the Tasmanian option.

At the time, a Tasmanian government spokesperson said the state’s priority remains safely managing seasonal workers entering the state – as well as Tasmanian international students, when it is considered safe to do so.

He added that efforts to stimulate the education sector of the economy have been thwarted by the Federal government’s cap on overseas arrivals.

However, just over two hours later the Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said while it was true his government was approached, he’s not interested in participating in the plan.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein confirmed in a statement that his government had received an approach from NSW.

“At this time, however, we have advised this is not under consideration, with our priority remaining the safe management of seasonal workers entering the state and our own international students when public health advice is that it is safe to do so,” he said.

Data published earlier this year shows that only 130 new and returning international students entered Australia in October 2020, compared with 51,000 in October 2019.

And as NSW has come under increasing pressure to repatriate its share of the roughly 40,000 Australian citizens and permanent residents still stranded overseas, international students have been pushed to the end of the queue.