Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said many overseas students in Australia were now facing significant financial hardship.
“Over the past two weeks state and territory governments have increasingly recognised and understood the difficulties international students are facing due to impacts from the COVID-19 global pandemic,” Ms Jackson said.
“Through no fault of their own, many of the more than 310,000 higher education students living and studying in Australia have lost their part-time jobs.”
“They are not eligible for the same support local students can get through JobKeeper and JobSeeker.”
“To date, the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian, Victoria and Western Australian governments have announced assistance packages for international students. Some support has also been offered at the Federal level.”
“The states and territories join all UA members in launching their own hardship support initiatives.”
“These university initiatives include providing emergency grants, scholarships, accommodation, food and low cost or free IT equipment.”
“A nationally consistent approach to this challenge is vital. Universities Australia is ready to work with all governments on developing sustainable, ongoing assistance that international students will require beyond the short-term.”
Ms Jackson said international education is Australia’s fourth largest export, worth $39 billion.
“Supporting international students in tough times is not only about helping those in need, it is a longer-term investment in our economy. It sends a clear message overseas to potential students thinking about their post COVID-19 future that Australia remains a smart choice for a word-class education.”