These are the Australian universities setting up COVID-19 funds to help international students

covid-19 help australia students
Australian universities are offering COVID-19 help for international students to manoeuvre the waves of uncertainty brought by the pandemic. Source: William West/AFP

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”.

covid-19 help australia students

People look out toward an empty Bondi Beach as it remains closed due to restrictions in place to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Sydney on April 22, 2020. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

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.

covid-19 help australia students

Passengers check-in at the Virgin Australia counter at Brisbane domestic airport on April 21, 2020. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

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.”

Over at the capital, the University of Canberra is taking a similar approach by asking international students to email 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:

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