Partial Tuition Reimbursement for International Students at UQ

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On the 20 of March 2020, The University of Queensland made the difficult and complex decision to officially move all teaching activities online through platforms like Zoom as a response to the rapidly spreading of Coronavirus pandemic.

This unprecedented and unpredictable crisis has resulted in a tough situation for about 18,074  international students at the university (UQ, 2019).

While we recognize that the University and all of their staff are making huge efforts to still deliver quality education to all students, it is undeniable that this transition to online teaching represents a reduction in instructional quality, academic support and entire student learning experience. Despite these efforts and new online resources, the e-learning experience does not reflect the amenities and benefits of in-person education that motivated the international student community to study at a university of UQ’s repute. 

Additionally, the loss of physical classroom space has entailed negative consequences for students as loss of networking and career opportunities. Moreover, this shift to exclusively e-learning has greatly reduced if not completely cancelled events such as workshops, industry fairs, talks and engaging mentoring programs at the campus which will negatively affect students’ professional short- and long-term outcomes.

As international students, we chose the University of Queensland because of its world-ranked education but also due to the close contact and collaboration opportunities with leading researchers and peers embedded in daily university life. Nevertheless, since all of these services have been severely affected and the current form of education does not reflect the benefits of in-person teaching that we enrolled for, we fear that the quality of education we are receiving is not proportionate with our costly international tuition fees. We state this considering that in 2020 some Bachelor programs international fees can differ by up to 74% from domestic fees while some Master degrees tuitions fees contrast by 60% according to UQ’s website.   

Furthermore, the imminent restrictive measures that the Australian Government is taking which we believe are completely necessary to contain the virus but are also directly impacting the economy, pose a higher risk for international students since most of us work under casual contracts. The supportive economic measures recently implemented by the government do not address non-citizens and as such we have been left in a precarious situation in which income is scarce and the high fees that are paid to the university do not reflect its quality of delivery. 

In this way, we petition that partial tuition fees should be reimbursed to international students to compensate and address the downsize in quality of education due to the transition to online learning and the long-term negative career impacts owing to the lack of networking and employability events.

We strongly believe that it is not fair to charge international students full tuition amounts for an education that does not compare to the quality of education we originally agreed to and paid for. Finally, as temporary residents and without any local support during this crisis, we ask the university to assess this petition in-depth as other Australian educational institutions have done such:

Griffith University - Providing a one-off scholarship up to AUD $1,500 to eligible students in recognition of the many impacts of COVID-19 on their education and daily life. Please see the documents attached.  

The University of Melbourne - Offered financial aid to international students stranded in China due to the ban of entry to foreign nationals and provided reimburse expenses related to forfeited flights, accommodation and remote study workarounds as mentioned in The Guardian’s article on February 26, 2020.

With this in mind, we call upon the University of Queensland authorities to address the reduction of educational quality and overall career impact by providing international students with partial tuition reimbursements for Semester 1, 2020. We note that the international students make up to 34 percentage of the total university student population (UQ, 2019) and the University’s funds should be used to help protect these students during these trying times.