There is a renewed push to bring international students back to South Australia despite growing clusters interstate and new more infectious strains around the world.

South Australia is set to form part of a pilot program to bring back as many as 300 international students to the state.

The program had been earmarked to kick off in November last year but had to be delayed due to the Parafield cluster, however, an industry expert says that now is the time to help revive the state’s ailing education sector.

CEO of the International Education Association of Australia Phil Honeywood told The Advertiser that Australia is at risk of losing a large number of its lucrative international students to other countries if it does not open its borders to them this year.

“If we lose a second full academic year, then students will give up waiting and will elect to enrol in competitor countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada,” Mr Honeywood told The Advertiser.

The push to forge ahead with the state’s pilot program follows on from a trial to bring 63 international students to the Northern Territory, from which there were no virus outbreaks.

The state government is yet to confirm when the students will return, but have previously flagged that it will happen in early 2021.