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Travel and student exchange

Travel ban and restrictions
The Australian Government has introduced a travel ban for all citizens, and self-isolation requirements are in place for all arrivals from overseas. There will be no student or non-essential staff travel.

Travelling within Australia

Domestic travel is currently defined as travel in Australia and New Zealand.

Stay at home orders are in place in Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour until 11.59pm on Friday 16 July 2021. Check the NSW Government website for more information.

If you are a resident of the City of Fairfield local government area (LGA) you should be aware of increased NSW Health requirements to get a COVID test every three days if you are leaving your LGA.

Travel for education where you cannot learn from your place of residence (for example, exams and intensive units of study) is deemed a reasonable excuse under this PHO, and 'work' includes 'attending university or other tertiary education'.

If you are planning to visit other Australian states and territories, please make sure you're aware of the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in place

Students must follow local risk management processes to seek approval for travel for the purposes of domestic student placements. There are currently no additional institution-wide measures in place to approve travel for this purpose. You will need to note COVID-19 as a risk within the Risk Assessment and adopt appropriate mitigation strategies.

Travelling from Australia

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has implemented a travel ban for all Australians, effective from Wednesday 25 March, 2020. Citizens will not be allowed to travel overseas, except in exceptional circumstances that must be approved by the government. 

States and territories can apply their own restrictions, including additional quarantine requirements. In NSW, a mandatory quarantine fee will apply to international travellers returning to NSW and needing to quarantine.

Travel by students for the purposes of overseas student exchange or electives (including vocational placements) in 2021 is considered international travel. International travel means travel outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Any requests for international travel need to be approved by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, noting that approval will only be given in truly exceptional circumstances.

Higher Degree Research (HDR) students continue to be subject to the same travel restrictions and approval processes as staff, for the purposes of travel to complete core components of their research projects. HDR students continue to be subject to the same travel restrictions as students for the purposes of overseas student exchange or electives to for completion of coursework components. 

If you are considering travel outside of Australia, for example to return home for the holiday period, there are very important considerations to be aware of, including potential risks to your ongoing ability to study.

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelling overseas involves considerable uncertainty and may affect your studies in significant and unforeseeable ways.  

The University strongly recommends that you consider carefully all relevant circumstances before deciding to travel overseas.

Strict border controls, quarantine requirements and other conditions of international travel are likely to continue for some time and you may be unable to return to Australia in time to resume your studies or fulfil certain course requirements, such as placements or in-person elements.

Up-to-date information about travelling to and from Australia is on the Department of Home Affairs website.

We understand restrictions on travel have created difficult situations for international students and their families. Find out about the various support services for students, including financial support and support for mental health and wellbeing.

Faculty programs

A faculty can permit students to undertake an elective, exchange or placement in their home country (but not in a third country) where:

  • the student is already located overseas in their home country and is unable or unwilling to return to Australia; and
  • the Faculty is satisfied that the proposed study meets the Faculties’ academic standards

A faculty can permit students to undertake an elective or placement in New Zealand (for a maximum of 6 months) where:

  • the student is currently in Australia and willing and able to travel to New Zealand; and
  • the Faculty is satisfied that the proposed study meets the Faculties’ academic standards.

Students must follow local risk management processes to seek approval for travel for the purposes of domestic student placements. There are currently no additional institution-wide measures in place to approve travel for this purpose. You will need to note COVID-19 as a risk within the Risk Assessment and adopt appropriate mitigation strategies.

Study abroad and exchange

The University has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of our students.

Due to the continuing uncertainty around when international borders will reopen and when it will be safe to resume travel, the University has made the difficult decision to suspend outbound mobility programs, up to and including Semester 2, 2021 exchange and short-term overseas programs during the winter break.

With all outbound mobility programs being suspended, the status of your Semester 2, 2021 application will be updated to ‘Program Suspended by USyd: COVID-19’. Your application will not be deferred and you will have to start a new application on the Global Mobility Database if you wish to apply for a future semester exchange program.

International students who have submitted an application for an exchange program but are currently in their home country and unable to travel to Australia, should email sydney.abroad@sydney.edu.au.

You will be supported in participating in mobility programs in your country of citizenship/permanent residence, where the host university allows and places are available.

The University has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and the safety, health and wellbeing of students remains the priority. Due to this and the uncertainty surrounding the current global pandemic and travel, the University will not be supporting overseas study programs to a country where students are not a citizen/permanent resident.

When the Australian Government lift the international travel ban, the University will then reassess if and when we’re able to support international travel for student mobility programs. Until that time, we’re unable to move forward in supporting applications where international travel would be required up to and including Semester 2, 2021.

The University of Sydney is working with partner universities to understand which programs will be available in a virtual format and aiming to support participation in viable virtual programs for the Australian winter and Semester 2, 2021. These virtual programs will enable you to gain the valuable skills that you usually develop through international experiences. Once the international travel ban is lifted, the University will reassess our support of in-person international mobility opportunities.

Travel expense claims

If you are a University of Sydney student whose study abroad/exchange program was impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to claim the return travel and/or other expenses incurred in returning to Australia. Please contact the Sydney Abroad team at sydney.abroad@sydney.edu.au for further advice.

If you are an international student undertaking University of Sydney degree programs and you have been affected by Australian Government travel restrictions, you are not eligible to claim insurance. However, you may be eligible for Hardship funding support – please see further details in the financial assistance application form.

Last updated Tuesday 8 June. 

Contact us

Students can submit a query via the Coronavirus Enquiry form.
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