Noting significant pressure from universities for the return of international students for 2021, the ACT government's assessment of the Australian National University's application to provide an alternative to hotel quarantine found it didn't meet requirements, according to the report.
Access to individual balconies, cooking and laundry facilities were listed as shortfalls in a review of Davey Lodge located on the ANU campus and Weeden Lodge at the University of Canberra.
According to ACT government, the halls of residence did not meet the ACT's quarantine accommodation standards and the standards identified by the National Review of Hotel Quarantine, delivered in October 2020.
The ACT Health Directorate, Treasury and ACT Policing had been engaged in negotiations with ACT universities with regard to the return of international students for more than six months before the report was made, however, failure to meet the government's "non-negotiable hotel quarantine accommodation requirements" meant it didn't get across the line.
Requirements include 24-hour CCTV monitoring of site covering all exit points, monitoring of hotel-quarantine workers in common areas and the ability to direct media enquiries back to ACT Health.
Wifi, sufficient staff "to handle excess phone calls for first 48-72 hours" and a 24-hour logistics point of contact was also required of hotel-quarantine facilities.
The report said any alternative quarantine accommodation would need to meet a number of requirements including the evaluation and review of end-to-end infection control, including cleaning, waste management and laundry arrangements.
Staff training in infection control and use of PPE, a no-interaction rule between residents and people in quarantine, self-cater and single-room accommodation must contain a suitably sized courtyard, cooking facilities and in-room washer and drier was also required.
The ANU has previously pointed out the campus has successfully quarantined a number of students on campus since the onset of the pandemic.
It said it would continue to pursue Davey Lodge as one of several alternatives to hotel quarantining.
"We are currently in dialogue with the ACT government and the Commonwealth government in relation to other options," a spokesperson said.
It currently has more than 3000 international students studying remotely overseas, most of them stuck in China. Many of them locked out when Australian borders closed after returning home for Chinese New Year.
Ping Zhang is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University's Research School of Earth Sciences who has been stuck overseas for 15 months.
"I failed five times for the application for travel exemption," Ms Zhang said.
"I have weekly group meetings, school seminars, and online courses, which I very much appreciate.
"However, science is based on discussion, communications, and collaborations.
"Remote learning full-time for such a long time severely compromises the best part of doing research.
"I am sincerely looking forward to returning to Australia to study on-campus."
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