The two universities in Canberra are working towards a return by international students in the new year, perhaps for the first semester in February.
But the plans are by no means certain and seem far less firm than those of universities in NSW.
The NSW government has announced that 500 international students will arrive on charter flights by the end of this year.
But there is no possibility of international students coming to the ACT before the end of December, according to people familiar with government and university ambitions.
The fully vaccinated students would quarantine in specially prepared accommodation after they arrive in Sydney.
The flights would not be paid for by the tax-payer but by the students, according to NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro - though it is not clear if universities would also contribute.
This would be a "pilot scheme" to test how the return of students from abroad might be done on a bigger scale.
When ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr was asked about the scheme, he said no pilot scheme would be needed but 2022 was the year he had in mind.
"I think we'll move more quickly than that but in 2022," he said.
The Australian National University welcomed the ACT government's "willingness" to bring students back in 2022.
"We welcome the comments from the Chief Minister," a spokesman said.
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The University of Canberra was also hopeful. "We've certainly been working with the ACT government, and also with our colleagues in NSW on international student return plans," Professor Geoff Crisp, University of Canberra deputy vice-chancellor said.
There are a range of difficulties in bringing international students to Canberra which are not faced by NSW institutions.
International flights go to Sydney but not to Canberra so students would have to travel through NSW to get to the ACT, and that presents quarantine problems.
Canberra is fully equipped to take large aircraft, and international flights flew from the airport before the pandemic, so it technically could accept a chartered flight - but the question would then be whether that would be financially feasible.
The ACT government would not charter flights and it is not clear that the numbers of potential student passengers for two universities in Canberra would justify those universities paying the bill.
In contrast, NSW has numerous universities which might make a financial contribution.
Their resources are substantial compared with those of the ANU and UC.
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