April 4, 2020

ISD Update 2: International Student Rights During the COVID-19 Crisis

Viknash Vm Viknash Vm

To my fellow international students,

It pains me to have read comments passed about international students having to ‘make our way home’. It pains me because it has caused so much of increased anxiety amongst all of us at a time of great uncertainty. I share the pain with many of you who have asked the question, ‘am I supposed to leave?’.  You do not have to leave.

Let me explain.

Firstly, as I mentioned in my previous post, I understand the hardships we face as a collective. Many of us have lost our part time jobs. Many of our family members who are our sponsors might have lost their jobs due to the change in economic landscape.

This has led to us facing financial hardship. Some of us are away from family and might even be away from family who have been in contact with the virus which causes us great emotional and psychological stress. We need to overcome these hardships together. We need to support each other.

The issue of financial hardships which I believe led to the remarks being made are issues which the UWA Student Guild and UWA have been working hard to help students with. Some of the support you can access includes:

  • For international students who have fees due at present but are unable to pay, contact international-help@uwa. edu.au. and UWA will work with you on a plan in response to your financial situation.
  • Students can access assistance for housing through UWA’s Student Welfare service, including at University Colleges. Emergency accommodation can be arranged for students who are in need.
  • We now have a Financial hardship grant for International students and domestic students to apply for. We have welfare packages with pantry items and personal hygiene staples for students to request for.
  • Students can reduce their study loads by contacting AskUWA and their Student Office.

These measures have been put in place to help any student facing hardships and we are all ready to help.

I stand with the National Union of Students (NUS) and Council of International Students Australia (CISA) in regard to the demands they had outlined to the government. We as international students need to be supported.

Changes to visa policies must happen. It was noted that those changes would be announced in the next couple of days and I am hoping they listen to what we have been voicing out with 12-month visa extensions and fee waivers. It would be great disappointment if otherwise. 

We will be united in this. We have to lift each other up in this time. I can only offer you again what I have in this time of uncertainty and that is my unwavering advocacy. I will continue to do what is best for us and the community.

My inbox is always open for anyone of you. Send me an email or message us at the ISD social media pages. Stay safe and practice social distancing.

I say this again because I mean it, I am with you. We are all with you.

Viknash VM

International Students Department President