university of Sydney
Jane Fitzgerald said universities have suffered from the closed borders, including the University of Sydney (pictured). Image – LinkedIn and Cavna.
  • Before the pandemic, education was Australia's third largest export
  • Areas surrounding universities , such as Kensington (NSW), have suffered from the lack of international students
  • Property Council hopes the program will facilitate the safe return of immigration more broadly in the near future

The Property Council of Australia (PCA) has welcomed the New South Wales Government’s approval of tightly controlled quarantine arrangements that will allow international students to return to Australia.

The program will welcome 250 students a fortnight, possibly starting as early as next month.

Last year’s border closures had deep impacts on the tourism industry, universities and other further education institutions. While some tourism has recovered due to Australian travel, the higher education sector has endured lasting impacts, and will for some years yet.

Before the pandemic, education was Australia’s third-largest export, after iron ore and coal, contributing about $32 billion to the economy annually, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Along with lower revenue due to fewer students, areas surrounding universities also suffered, such as Kensignton, near the University of NSW, which Property Council NSW Executive Director, Jane Fitzgerald, says is still struggling “without the valuable custom of international students.”

“It’s great to see their return has become a State priority,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“The excellent proposal by the Purpose-Built Student Accommodation Industry Working Group put to the NSW Government is the blueprint to resuscitate Australia’s third-largest export.”

“Activating this plan is entirely consistent with the NSW Government’s excellent management to date of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no doubt that this plan could be safely and thoroughly implemented.”

Jane Fitzgerald, Property Council NSW

Ms Fitzgerald said the quarantine arrangements is a ”necessary trial” for the resumption of a broader plan to safely re-open borders. She added, along with the vaccination program, this program will shore up confidence in quarantine arrangements, which she argues is needed to confidently resume immigration.

“With about half the demand for greenfield homes in NSW coming from immigration, thousands of property and construction jobs – and the State’s economic growth – will be at risk over the next year once HomeBuilder expires,” she said.

“This sensible and measured plan should be seen as the first step in inoculating NSW from longer term economic damage and a means to protect the jobs of even more of the half a million people in NSW who make up the property industry.”

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