March 25, 2020

ISD Update: International Student Rights During the COVID-19 Crisis

Viknash VM Viknash VM, International Students'

International students are heavily affected by COVID-19. Many of you are feeling anxious and worried about how the rest of the semester and year will pan out especially with the amount of costs we have put into pursuing our degrees.

Tuition fees, rent, and above all the emotional and psychological strength we have to possess to spend this time away from our loved ones. You are not alone in this. We are not alone in this.

I understand how you feel. I am with you, and so are the thousands of us pursuing our education here in Australia. Your families are with you. They must be concerned as well and that is completely understandable. Those messages and calls you are getting from home are a testament to the sheer strength many of you carried when you decided to pursue your dreams away from home. You will not be forgotten.

I believe that we will get past this, but we need to stand together and support each other. We might not be able to lend a shoulder to someone in need, but words and actions go a long way in this period. We need to consolidate our voices and echo them together as a collective.

I have echoed my support for the National Union of Students and their demands, and will continue to do so: you can read how to show your support here.

I have also heard back from many of you in the UWA community, and have a few items that I am putting forward for us to feel better supported as a community here:

1)      For all International Student fees to be reduced by 20% across all units that have been transferred online and for a refund of 20% of fees already paid. The reduction in fees to stay in place as long as the units are online and not delivered face to face.

2)      For UWA to commit to an online delivery in Semester 2 as long as borders are closed off to international students.

3)      For international students to be given a 21-day buffer period from the date the borders are eventually opened to return and commence face to face classes, in which time they can continue online learning.

4)      For all residential colleges to allow international students who are returning home to break their leases without financial penalty.

5)      For our Health Insurer to cover any COVID-19 related medical expenses under the OSHC insurance.

6)      The Government must amend VISA conditions and CoE to allow international students to shift to part-time study while impacted by online studying and isolation measures.

7)      The Government must extend all Subclass 500 Student Visas by 12 months, in recognition of the interruption to international student’s education during this crisis

I will continue to advocate for us international students during this time of need. Stay safe and practice social distancing and your best hygiene practices. I am with you. We are all with you.

Viknash VM

International Students Department President

isd@guild.uwa.edu.au