Raising a voice for International Students in Queensland during Covid-19

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As we are all aware, the COVID-19 crisis is escalating at an unparalleled rate every passing day now. Overseas travel is being restricted, borders have been shut down with nearly 460 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia as of the 18th of March.

Amidst all of this, there are thousands of International students across Queensland, as well as Australia itself, that have been left vulnerable and in a state of jeopardy. While the government is announcing possible relief funds for Australian Citizens starting with Western Australia freezing utility bills, there is an eerie silence on the assistance that would be provided to over 500,000 international students across Australia.

Most of us work either as casuals/part-time in sectors such as Tourism, Retail, Hospitality etc where there have been massive losses due to the pandemic causing a massive downfall in the economy. A number of us have either been let go or have not been rostered for any hours at all from our 20-hour/week allowance. With monthly bills adding upto over $1500 including rent, groceries and utilities and then the fees as well, and with little to no support from any work, it can become very daunting.

Even though the International student community contributes to over $37 billion in a year to the Australian Economy, in a dire situation such as this, with the country on the brink of a lockdown, they face a high level of uncertainty of their situation.

Universities have switched over to online modules and assessment criteria. However with the fee of each subject amounting to upto $4000 in a trimester, doesn't seem fair in a module which could have very well been completed sitting in the comforts of our own home. We travel overseas for education due to the high level of facilities on campus, face-to-face sessions and also access to everything the university offers. It is only fair that in a situation such as this, we are refund partially from the fee that has been collected for this Trimester/ Semester for the courses that would have to be conducted online.

We sincerely appeal to the State and Central Government to take action now and support us, when we need you more than ever. This is the time to show the world why Australia was the best country to come to for pursuing your degree. This is our home now too.

This plea is being made on behalf of the entire student community in the state of Queensland, Australia.