6th April 2021
Dear Member of the United Nations,
Thank you for maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.
Through this letter, we hereby represent a group of 20,000 students and related people impacted by the travel ban in China, Australia and Japan.
We are sending this letter in regard to international students seeking graduate school education, exchange program students, undergraduate students and language students attending academic institutions. Unfortunately, due to the current border restrictions implemented because of COVID-19 variant concerns, we are unable to pursue our education.
Education is not only a moral right, but also a legal right under international law. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has a right to education and that “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace”.
It is well understood that restrictive measures and high sanitary standards are necessary in order to control the spread of COVID-19. Given the situation it is a wise decision to only allow essential travel, and the concern about the new variants is legitimate. With proper safety standards, China, Australia and Japan can allow international students to travel and quarantine as seen by most nations during this pandemic.
With our deepest respect, we humbly request your help to make sure the governments of China, Australia and Japan will soon resume issuance of new visas for students.
Reasons for our request are the following:
- As international students, it is crucial for us to be physically present in our host countries since real language learning is only possible when immersed in the environment. Our inability to be present will result in a detrimental effect on our learning, or even have a negative impact on our mental health as we will need to follow online courses with jet lag.
- Many of our graduate programs in our host countries require the realization of a thesis as a requisite to get the diploma. The thesis must be constantly checked and assessed by a university professor and in-person collaboration is essential to the quality of the work.
- PhD students need physical access to labs for their work as well as medics who need labs and clinics too for their study and internship years. Because of this they have been forced to suspend their studies indefinitely.
- Many of our academic programs require the cultural exchange that international students provide to enrich the experience and knowledge of Chinese, Australian and Japanese students enrolled in the University.
- Many of us were scheduled to arrive before the April term and left their jobs, apartments and houses.
- The situation is also becoming complicated for academic programs across our host countries that need international students to survive financially and culturally.
- Education is an essential tool for the development of both countries. Even in times of a global pandemic, education should not be ignored.
- The situation is especially burdensome for those students who were scheduled to start school in April 2020 or October 2020 and had to defer it for 2021. They have been carrying this weight for almost a year.
- Many of us would have to take online classes enduring the time difference which might take a toll on mental health. Some of us have been waking up at 3AM to follow courses for a few months because of that.
- A lot of us have conditional scholarships which will be pulled out because of our inability to respect the condition, which is being physically in Japan to study.
- We are ready to abide by any necessary controls and procedures to ensure the safest conditions upon my arrival. It includes submitting PCR tests from before departure and after arrival, and respecting a 14-days quarantine.
We are hoping for your kind decision to consider international students worthy of your help to make sure we can finally continue our lives and pursue our education.
Signatures (we have collected more than 20,000 signatures in total):
Petition for International Students stranded out of China
Petition for International Students stranded out of Australia
Petition for International Students stranded out of Japan
Link to Full Letter