Hardship funds
Hardship funds and other forms of support are available for university students affected by COVID-19. Source: AMANDA ANDRADE-RHOADES / AFP

The COVID-19 outbreak has been nothing short of challenging for university students all around the world.

Many have been negatively affected by the outbreak, especially international students who are stuck abroad and unable to return to their home countries due to lockdowns.

Some governments have been quick to come to the aid of university students. 

On April 8, the Scottish Government announced a £5 million hardship fund for struggling students in the country; in the US, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced on April 9 that more than US$6 billion will be distributed immediately to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the outbreak. 

While other governments have been sluggish to come to the aid of students, it’s worth noting that an increasing number of universities are offering hardship funds, bursaries and other forms of support for university students who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. 

Here are some worth checking from your university:

Support for electronic equipment

Hardship funds

Some universities are offering laptop loans for students. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

As learning shifts online across many universities around the world, students stuck without laptops and other devices may want to check if your institution allows you to borrow a laptop from the university or get a loan to purchase necessary devices to help you continue your studies online.

Universities such as Deakin University in Australia offers support for IT equipment and services, while Swinburne University offers long-term laptop loans for international students, so you may want to check with your institution if they offer similar forms of support.

Extension on your assignments

Many universities are offering students an extension on their assignments due to the pandemic. 

Some may require you to provide a doctor’s note to certify that you are unwell, while others may offer a sweeping extension to all students, without requiring any form of documentation as proof that you are unwell or require time to return to your home country.

Bursary packages

University students who are experiencing severe hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis might want to explore what types of bursaries are being offered by your university.

For instance, Griffith University in Australia has set up a COVID-19 Student Support Bursary package to help their most needy students, providing up to AU$1,500 per student.

Meanwhile, the University of Edinburgh’s hardship fund is available for students, which can be used to cover any exceptional costs they may have incurred for accommodation, subsistence and travel.

Check with your institution if they offer similar financial support.

Extension of census date

Some universities are offering an extension on their census date as many students as well as their families are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, or require more time to transfer cash abroad with stay at home orders in place. 

Financial assistance loan

Institutions such as Macquarie University offer a “COVID-19 Financial Assistance Loan” for student who neee a loan to buy a laptop, set up Internet access to be able to study online, or even those who are moving house and need to pay relocation expenses. It is an interest-free loan for students to spend on anything that supports their continued study virtually.

You may want to check if your institution also offers something similar.

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