Charles Darwin University (CDU) remains on track to be the first university in the country to pilot a program which will see its international students return to Australia, with the flight almost at capacity and set to arrive on 30 November.
Almost 90 per cent of approximately 70 seats on the Singapore Airlines flight have been filled, with the remaining spots expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Students from five countries will travel to Singapore to be connected to the pilot fight, which will depart Changi Airport and touch down in Darwin.
The flight has the full approval of the Northern Territory and Australian governments and will not be impacted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement on Friday delaying the return of international students in other states.
The CDU cohort will be the first group of international students to enter Australia since the introduction of hard border restrictions in March due to COVID-19.
Upon arrival, students will be escorted immediately to the Northern Territory Government facility at Howard Springs for 14 days of quarantine.
CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Strategy and Advancement, Andrew Everett said although originally planned for earlier this month, the flight was rescheduled to arrive on 30 November to allow students extra time to obtain visas.
“Those confirmed on the flight are a mix of new and continuing students, enrolled in a range of VET, undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD programs including Law, Nursing, IT, Teaching, Accounting and Engineering,” he said.
“The students are excited to come or return to the Northern Territory to study, and CDU is looking forward to welcoming them on campus, once they have been cleared by the Chief Health Officer.”
International students contribute an estimated $145 million into the NT economy each year and support almost 500 jobs. It is hoped that the success of the pilot will help contribute to the recovery of the NT economy.
Mr Everett said he wanted to reassure the Darwin community that all health and safety measures will be strictly maintained as directed by the Chief Health Officer of the NT.
“We have been working closely with the Northern Territory and Australian governments to ensure the health and safety of the Northern Territory community remains the highest priority,” Mr Everett said.
“CDU is adhering to the advice of the Chief Health Officer on all aspects relating to health and safety, including pre-departure health requirements, COVID-19 testing and quarantine upon arrival. CDU staff will also deliver pastoral care to support students’ wellbeing.”
CDU has a comprehensive support program planned during the quarantine period for the students - who are from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia - including daily phone calls, virtual exercise classes and academic workshops.