floods in australia
Floods in Australia have affected thousands of residents, including many international students who have lost their homes and belongings. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

The recent floods in Australia have impacted international students living in Queensland and New South Wales and have forced universities across the region to close. 

Days of rainfall has resulted in the flooding of major communities in eastern Australia, submerging thousands of homes and leaving many stranded. As many as twenty-one university campuses in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales shut down as a result of the deluge, reported Times Higher Education. 

A family steers their boat through a flooded street in Lawrence, around 70km from the town of Lismore. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Thousands of Australian citizens are reeling from the damage caused by the floods. Reports say at least eight people have died, and more than 15,000 homes have been flooded in Brisbane. The city of Lismore in New South Wales has seen thousands of residents evacuated, with many rescued from their roofs. The Guardian reports that the city’s central business district remains underwater. 

International students have not been spared from the wreckage, including at least 110 Malaysians. Many have seen their homes submerged and are seeking assistance from their relevant embassies or student associations. 

Several have set up GoFundMe pages to raise funds for their losses. At the moment, the Australian government is not offering any financial assistance to student visa holders. Students have instead turned to sharing posts about the situation on the ground on social media. 

In Brisbane, the floods mark the worst the city has seen since 2011, when it was submerged in what was described as a once-in-a-century event. Major roads have been cut, and train and ferry services across the city have been halted.

“We’re going to have localised flooding in a lot of areas for a couple of days yet,” Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said.

Universities close following floods in Australia

Floodwaters continue to climb, forcing seven universities to close some or all of their campuses, only admitting those affected by the floods onto their grounds. The Lismore campus of Southern Cross University (SCU) has converted its indoor basketball complex into an evacuation centre, serving as one of the many shelters that have been set up in the town. 

All campuses of the University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and Griffith and Bond universities have been shut as well. The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) shut its Ipswich and Springfield campuses as a precautionary measure. Thousands of dollars in equipment have been damaged as a result of the floods in Australia. 

This comes as universities in Australia gear to begin in-person classes after years of virtual learning. Recently, the country has started opening its borders again, welcoming international travellers for the first time in two years.

For many universities, the end of February was intended to mark the beginning of their academic terms. All tutorials, workshops, seminars, and labs have been cancelled by universities affected by the floods in Australia, both in-person and online.

Residents in Lawrence look out to a flooded street. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

How can I help?

Despite the hardship, many residents are extending a helping hand to those affected by the floods in Australia. Emergency crews in Brisbane and its surrounding areas have been swiftly deployed after receiving 8,000 calls for help. In other areas, volunteers are trekking out with life rafts to bring stranded residents to safety.

Other initiatives such as food banks, clothing drives, and fund-raising efforts have been set up as well. Organisations that have set up donation links include Good 2 Give, the Australian Red Cross, and the St Vincent de Paul Society. The RSPCA has set up a donation drive for animals affected by the floods in Australia.

Residents and students are advised to seek shelter where they are unless their safety is at risk.