Safe quarantine arrangements are the primary barrier faced by universities to get international students back on campus, according to Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Canberra universities continue to look at "on- and off-campus" options to host international student quarantine, while a NSW proposal has provided hope some of their cohorts can arrive via Sydney.
Mr Barr said approved quarantine was the biggest hurdle in the ACT after 18 months of universities and governments working on a way to return students.
"We've been trying for a year and have been knocked back on numerous occasions by the Commonwealth," he said.
The ACT government dismissed the ANU's earlier offer to host students in quarantine on campus as student accommodation was deemed unsuitable.
An ANU spokesman said a range of "on and off campus options" for student quarantine and the possibility of chartered flights were being worked through.
"We're confident we can safely operate different quarantine models. We have already safely quarantined domestic students on campus," he said.
A NSW proposal to return 250 international students to Sydney each fortnight has provided hope for the Canberra university cohort.
The ANU said some overseas students might be able to join the program after the pilot phase.
"Our share would amount to a few seats on each flight," the ANU spokesman said.
Under the NSW plan, which is yet to receive federal approval, students would quarantine at purpose-built student accommodation.
Mr Barr has welcomed the NSW proposal, which the government hope will set a precedent.
The territory's initial plan to return students was set back last July due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in Australia at the time.
Should the NSW program get the tick of approval, it would be one of the first major international student return pilot since borders closed. A pilot program in the Northern Territory had about 60 students arrive at the Howard Springs facility.
"The principle issue for the ACT will be suitable approved quarantine accommodation," Mr Barr told ABC Radio.
"The second issue will be the current rules are effectively that you need to quarantine at your port of arrival.
"We would need chartered flights into Canberra, chartered by the universities, into Canberra Airport then into a quarantine facility ... with all of the necessary management in the same way we managed the repatriation flights."
The Pacific Suites hotel has previously been used as a quarantine facility for repatriation flights.
"Approved hotel quarantine facilities are also their own businesses who want to take tourists as well, so there's a bit of competition for that space," Mr Barr said.
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