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Proposal for the potential return of international students to Sydney

Frequently asked questions about the student corridor
These FAQs will be updated as more information is received, so please check the page regularly. Eligible students will be contacted directly with any updates.

Update 24 September 2021: The University of Sydney will participate in a small pilot program to bring some international students back to NSW in late 2021. 

Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s international borders are still currently closed and entry to New South Wales is restricted.


What is the proposal to return offshore international students to the University of Sydney?

The proposal to return some international students to NSW universities is a joint undertaking between the NSW Government, Study NSW and all NSW universities. It aims to progressively, and safely, return international students enrolled in our universities to NSW so they can continue their studies on campus.

Initially the pilot program will welcome two flights of 250 students back to all Universities in NSW in December 2021, followed by an evaluation before scaling to larger intakes.

Our students who must undertake face-to-face learning to complete their degrees will be prioritised as part of this plan. Eligible students will also be required to complete the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

This pilot program is supported by the University sector and will be run in parallel to the current arrangements to return Australian citizens to Australia. The proposal has been approved by NSW Health and NSW Police. 

Who will be eligible to return?

To be eligible to return to Sydney, students must satisfy and agree to some requirements:

  1. Only a small number of students will initially be eligible to return.
  2. Students will need a valid Australian Student Visa.
  3. Students will need to return a negative COVID-19 test pre-departure.
  4. For now, the pilot plan requires all inbound international students to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine. See FAQ below for a list of these vaccines.
  5. Eligible students will be contacted by the University once the proposal is approved.

Which vaccine will I need to have to be eligible?

For now, the pilot plan requires all inbound international students to be fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine. The current list includes:

  • SPIKEVAX manufactured by Moderna
  • VAXZEVRIA manufactured by AstraZeneca – this includes VAXZEVRIA manufactured outside such as Covishield
  • COMIRNATY manufactured byPfizer
  • Janssen (or Johnson & Johnson) manufactured by Janssen-Cilag

What happens next?

We will keep all students up to date with information as it is available.

The University of Sydney will make direct contact with students who are eligible to participate in the program via their official University email.

Please be assured that we will continue to provide remote and online learning options for our students overseas for as long as that is required.

How can I register my interest?

At this stage students cannot register their interest for the program. Eligible students will be contacted directly by the University via their official University email, so please check regularly for any updates.

Why are international students being prioritised over Australian expats stranded overseas?

It is important to stress that not one quarantine place for Australians returning home will be taken away under this plan. Under this plan, all quarantine places for students are in addition to those for returning Australians, and are being funded by universities, not government. NSW has been prioritising the return of Australian citizens since the beginning of the pandemic, taking in not only those from NSW but those from other states who have not been able to quarantine on their own. As the NSW Premier has made clear, ensuring Australians are safely able to return home and allowing international students to come back are both important milestones in our State’s economic recovery.

I am finding studying remotely difficult and would prefer to study on campus, can you help me?

We understand your disappointment about being unable to return to Australia to continue your studies and appreciate that you would much prefer to be studying on campus. Due to the COVID-19 risk, travel into Australia is limited. We can’t wait until we’re able to welcome all our students back to campus and we are continuing our work with governments towards that aim.

The University is committed to doing everything we can to support you and we will continue to provide remote and online learning options for our students overseas for as long as that is required. There is also a range of support services, resources and events available to support you while you study online. 

Who can I talk to if I am struggling with my health and wellbeing?

The global pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the wellbeing of our student community. The University of Sydney has a range of services and resources to support you during this difficult time:

  • Peer Support Advisors fluent in English and Mandarin, they are trained to support you. You can contact them through email and/or organise one-to-one Zoom consultations where they will refer relevant information and support services to you. Complete this enquiry form or email covid19.peersupport@sydney.edu.au to ask questions or book a Zoom consultation. 
  • The Student’s Representative Council (SRC) is available for undergraduate students experiencing academic and welfare issues. There is free access to remote independent advice, advocacy and support through the SRC over the telephone, or through a Zoom or Skype appointment. Find out more about the SRC.
  • TalkCampus – this app provides free and instant support for your mental health and wellbeing, allowing you to chat anonymously in your first language, give and take advice and make friends globally.
  • Self-help resources and webinars that you can access right now as an offshore student. This covers a range of skills to overcome common challenges and problems we all face from time to time. 
  • Head Set by Counselling and Psychological Services is an online resource that can help you manage your psychological health and achieve your university goals. 
  • Sonder is a safety and wellbeing app for eligible international students. It is a free and multilingual 24/7 health, safety and wellbeing support service for students. International students who have purchased an eligible Allianz Global Assist or Allianz Care OSHC policy can access the services. 

To find out more about these resources and services, please visit the University’s Counselling and mental health support page and the Supporting online study page. Under Australian health regulatory law, counsellors situated in Australia are unable to provide advice or consultations to students located outside Australia but we have many remotely accessible resources available to offshore students. Please get in touch with our Peer Support Advisors if you want to find out more.

Please visit the Study NSW Return Program for further information about the program to return international students to Sydney.