Fears Chinese students won't be returning

Top News | Sophie Hui, Michael Shum and Reuters 24 Feb 2020

An Australian university is offering A$1,500 (HK$7,733) to each mainland student who returns through a third country even as Canberra eases a ban on secondary students.

The Australian government has imposed a travel ban on arrivals from the mainland since February 1. On Thursday, authorities extended the ban to Saturday.

But students can return to Australia as long as they have stayed in a third country outside China for 14 days.

The ban has affected more than 100,000 Chinese students who cannot return to Australia in time for the start of the semester, while universities also fear that thousands of students will withdraw and they would lost more than A$1 billion in tuition fees.

Western Sydney University said it would offer Chinese students a one-off payment if they fulfilled those requirements.

"In recognition of the additional costs incurred in traveling via another country, the university has offered to assist students with a one-off A$1,500 subsidy payment," said a Western Sydney University spokeswoman

The Australian government also eased the ban to allow about 760 Chinese high school students to return to the country, but none from Hubei. They will also be required to undergo a 14-day self-imposed quarantine.

"It is incredibly important that we bring some normality back to the international student market," education minister Dan Tehan said. "It is a small step we are taking, it is a precautionary step."

Meanwhile, New Zealand universities called on the government to exempt thousands of Chinese students from a ban.

This came after the New Zealand government placed a ban on entry into the country for all foreign nationals traveling from, or transiting through, China.

Taiwan is also banning students from Hong Kong and Macau.

Taiwan's education minister Pan Wen-chung said the ban is expected to affect 7,972 students from Hong Kong and Macau who have yet to return to Taiwan after the Lunar New Year holiday.

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