Canberra's major universities are pushing ahead with plans for a pilot program to return up to 350 international students to the capital despite the closure of the Victorian border and moves from the Prime Minister to slow international arrivals.
It is understood that keeping borders closed to Victoria as it deals with an outbreak of COVID-19 would not delay the international student pilots, which are planned for other states and territories, including South Australia and the ACT.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said planning was well underway on conditions that would allow for the return of international students.
"Preconditions to this happening include the reopening of internal state and territory borders within Australia, as well as the return to on-campus learning for the benefit of domestic students and the international students who are already in Australia," he said.
"Robust health, quarantine, border and provider protocols also need to be in place."
Neither the government nor the universities have given a date for when the first round international students could touch down in Canberra, however the institutions were working towards a flight in late July in time for the second semester.
It is unclear whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison's proposal to reduce the number of Australians returning from overseas would further delay the ACT pilot program.
Preference will be given to students already enrolled at the Australian National University or University of Canberra who are in the later stages of their education, especially those enrolled in honours programs, postgraduate studies and those conducting research.
Students will be required to fly to a hub city, likely to be in the Asia-Pacific region, to board a direct charter flight to Canberra.
They will be required to stay in quarantine in accommodation arranged by the universities for 14 days. It is possible they will need to begin their studies remotely while in quarantine.
A University of Canberra spokesperson said the universities were working with the ACT and federal governments on the pilot program, guided by the advice of health officials.
"Our primary focus remains the safety and wellbeing of the Canberra and university communities," the spokesperson said.
"The pilot includes stringent pre-departure and post-arrival testing, and when it goes ahead will operate under the strict arrival and quarantine protocols that has seen the ACT successfully manage overseas repatriations over the past few months."
Thousands of students were barred from reentering Australia to continue their studies when travel bans were implemented to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
ANU has 2800 international student currently offshore while the University of Canberra has about 400 international students offshore.