International students who are stuck overseas might soon have priority to return to Australia. The ACCC took another step forward in the direction of allowing universities of New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory to collaborate to facilitate the return of international students.
The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise NSW and ACT universities to collude on the pilot program that will prioritise those students who need to complete practical or on-site components of their course to progress their studies or to graduate.
The program includes allocating seats on flights under the NSW Government cap (250 students per fortnight) and jointly appointing a travel management provider to source flights and organise travel for returning students. Students will be responsible for booking and paying for their own flights.
According to the ACCC, the program is in line with the Australian Government’s Protocols and preconditions for international student arrivals to re-open the tertiary education sector to international students.
The ACCC also recognizes that working as a bloc, the universities will be able to create an efficient system. “The ACCC considers that the collaboration is likely to result in public benefits by providing an efficient and fair way of allocating seats and of facilitating the return of international students, and at a lower cost than if they were to book flights independently; and assisting the economic recovery of the tertiary sector. The ACCC considers that the arrangements are unlikely to result in significant public detriment”.
On June 21st, the ACCC granted interim authorization to enable the proposed arrangements to commence, now the draft determination proposes to grant this authorisation until 30 June 2022 to the universities.