Australian universities have committed more than $110 million to hardship support funds for their students but warn the country’s reputation is on the line and the government needs to step in with extra help for international students.
More than 570,000 foreign students – who are ordinarily expected to support themselves during their time at universities and other education providers – remain in Australia and find themselves without work and facing barriers to return home amid the global COVID-19 crisis.
Like other temporary visa holders, the students cannot access social security payments or the JobKeeper wage subsidy, and the government has so far outlined limited support for them, allowing some early access to accumulated superannuation but maintaining that government support payments should prioritise Australian citizens.
Universities have announced student hardship funds worth at least $110 million, led by a $25 million fund established at Deakin University. Other commitments include an estimated $21 million in support from the Australian National University, Monash University’s $15 million, Flinders University’s $12.5 million and RMIT University’s $10 million.