Universities are stepping up to offer COVID-19 help for international students in Australia financially impacted by the pandemic, a welcome development after several weeks of panic and distress.
The first wave of despair came when businesses like restaurants and university dining halls, many of which employ a significant number of the 700,000 international students enrolled in Australian higher education institutions, were ordered to close. Then Australian Prime Minister announced an AU$130bn stimulus package with financial aid to help Australians and Australian residents but not international students, who were instead told to “go home”.
Earlier this month, acting immigration minister Alan Tudge said that international students would be able to work an additional 20 hours a week as well as access superannuation they had earned.
But with businesses shuttered, the former is not feasible and the latter insufficient to pay rent and survive, especially in its cities like Sydney and Canberra, which are some of the most expensive in the world. Going home is not an option for many too, as countries around the world shut their borders to all borders, citizens included. Even if borders are open, there are either no flights to get them home or the flights too exorbitantly-priced.
Where one door shut, however, another with grants, loans and more are being opened by universities across the country, totaling AU$110 million.
Leading the pack is Deakin University, which announced an AU$25 million hardship fund for international students, which will be available for the next six months and in addition to the monetary aid for domestic students.
Deakin students can access this support via its existing support services and each will be case-managed individually to “help that student continue their studies at Deakin,” according to Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin.
“That direct conversation is the best way to determine specific and unexpected personal circumstances and tailor our support as necessary. So far, we have approved more than 1,200 requests for immediate financial and hardship support, with hundreds more applications currently being assessed,”
“My message to every Deakin student is that if COVID-19 has made it hard for you to continue your studies, then please step forward and let us know.”
In addition to the financial assistance already announced for domestic students experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19, #Deakin will offer up to $25 million in targeted support for international students. Read more: https://t.co/Ggp9NRd7Fb pic.twitter.com/ZdEnDSrpti
— Deakin (@Deakin) April 9, 2020
Over at the capital, the University of Canberra is taking a similar approach by asking international students to email email@example.com detailing their hardship.
It is providing relief hampers, comprising non-perishable food items and some essential toiletries, to one student per month.
Here is a list of the major universities in Australia offering help to international students and links to their specific hardship fund sites:
- Australian Catholic University
- Australian National University
- Charles Darwin University
- Charles Sturt University, Sydney
- Curtin University
- Deakin University
- Edith Cowan University
- Flinders University
- Griffith University
- La Trobe University
- Macquarie University
- Monash University
- Murdoch University
- Swinburne University of Technology
- University of Adelaide
- University of Canberra
- University of Newcastle
- University of New South Wales
- University of Queensland
- University of South Australia
- University of Southern Queensland
- University of Sydney
- University of Tasmania
- University of Technology, Sydney
- University of Western Australia
- University of Wollongong
- Victoria University
- Western Sydney University