Authorities are working on a proposal that would allow students to travel to Australia on a pre-approved plan with particular institutions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the appropriate quarantine entry requirements and biosecurity measures would have to be in place.
“I would hope to be in a position to do pilots next month,” he said on Friday.
The plan is contingent on the states opening their borders before international students can arrive.
“If you want to open up borders for international students, then you have to open up borders for Australians,” Morrison told the premiers.
Morrison said he wasn’t concerned that Chinese students would be deterred from coming to Australia after Beijing warned about racist attacks.
However, he said there was still work to do before any international students can arrive.
“I’m not suggesting this is going to happen soon,” he said.
“We’ve received some very, I think, well thought through proposals from states as to how this can be done, particularly here in the ACT.”
Australia’s borders have been closed to non-citizens and non-residents since March.
Universities Australia chief Catriona Jackson said a trial approach was sensible.
“Any trial will rigorously test the controlled entry of international students and will include robust quarantine arrangements put in place by state and territory governments,” she said.
“International students understand that they have to play their part by obeying the rules on health and hygiene practices. They are a good bet as COVID-safe citizens.”
The international education sector contributed $39 billion to the Australian economy in 2019 and supports 259,000 jobs.
By Rebecca Gredley