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CISA urges support such as rent or tuition fee reduction in Australia

Student advocacy group, Council of International Students Australia, is urging stakeholders to ensure the livelihoods of international students are equally considered in the various welfare packages being offered due to the impact of coronavirus.

Employment restrictions have been lifted for 20,000 international nursing students - but others are losing part-time jobs, warns CISA. Photo: Pexels

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the restrictions would be lifted on some 20,000 international nursing students

It is calling for freezing or reducing rents, and lowering the cost of education that has been moved online.

This follows two announcements that the Australian government would temporarily allow international student nurses – and those already working at major grocery stores – to work more hours to help Australia cope with increased pressure on supermarkets and in aged care.

Speaking with The PIE News, Rebecca Hall, senior industry specialist in international education at Austrade, said, “it absolutely is a nod to how important international students are in our economy and how much we value them.”

“We are fighting for international students to get a welfare package”

But she acknowledged that there was also discussion at government level about how best to support those “who are vulnerable and impacted at this time”.

Hall continued, “this is not just because there may not be work access in Australia, but… because families and those who are funding their studies back home are also impacted by the virus.”

CISA has pointed out that those students not able to work are losing out on an income they relied upon to support themselves.

“International students are among some of the highest contributors to Australia’s economy and it is important that their contributions be used to support them in such tough times,” it said in a press statement.

“Many international students are being laid off, facing a severe decrease in shifts and high job uncertainty.”

It recommends course costs be reduced “as international students pay for access to institution facilities and learning environment as well as the overall experience of being on campus, interacting with professors and other students and forging a sense of community”.

CISA president Ahmed Ademoglu added that the organisation was in touch with the government regularly.

“We have been advocating in various committees for international students to be supported during these trying times. We are fighting for international students to get a welfare package and we are positive that it will happen soon,” he said.

Under their visa arrangements, international students may only work up to 40 hours each fortnight.

However, on March 18, prime minister Scott Morrison said the restrictions would be lifted on some 20,000 international nursing students, enabling them to work the same number of hours as their domestic counterparts.

“They’re going to be available to support the health effort right across the country, as directed by our health officials,” the prime minister said.

This followed a visa rule concession to major Australian supermarkets to keep shelves stocked with essential items.

Acting minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, said the changes were necessary to help supermarkets meet the surge in demand for household items.

Tudge also pointed out how international students would help fill critical staff shortages emerging in the health sector.

“As more workers take leave to quarantine or because of health concerns, we need to make sure there are enough staff to look after our older Australians who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus,” Tudge said in a statement.

The measures will be administered by the Department of Home Affairs and are available to approved providers of Commonwealth-funded aged care services, only for existing employees.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said it’s critical to plan for a scenario where a large part of the aged care workforce is unable to come to work.

“Aged care providers have told me that a relaxation of student visa work conditions would support their workforce continuity in the face of COVID-19 challenges,” Colbeck added, pointing out that these are temporary measures.

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15 Responses to CISA urges support such as rent or tuition fee reduction in Australia

  1. We as international students contribute alot to the Australian economy and as a proud society, Australia should give welfare packages to us to help us better isolate ourselves. It is easy for others to vote for total isolation with a full belly and a roof to live under.

  2. There should be a fees reduction and support to atleast fulfil basic needs. International students are the main contributors in Australia. International students should be treated equal as other Australian students. I dont know why there is a discrimination between aussie or international student. Every one is a human man.

  3. We as an International student contribute a lot to raise an Australian economy and act as major contributors in Australia. Australian government should think about us as well and release some package so that students working in IT field who lost their jobs as well can at least fulfill their basic needs.

  4. It’s very sad to see that the Australian government is least borthered about international students and allowances are only provided to the Australians. The ones seeking for jobs and are currently jobless, where should they go? and for the next 4-5 months should we still rely on our financial sponsors for managing our expenses without even working? If no weekly allowances are provided atleast have our tuitions fees reduced.. we have enrolled for campus courses and not online.. why is there a discrimination towards those who are amongst the top 3 highest sources of income contributing towards the Australian economy.

  5. all students are contribution to Australia’s economy while studying.So at least fees should reduce so they can continue to study.

    • This time is only to check the humanity feelings in Australian government .

      Money can come and go but humanity should be first priority to any government.

      That’s it .

  6. International students should be supported by Australia government. There are many still working in hospitality industry which has turned into Quarantine centers for suspects for COVID. Moreover it will also be difficult for international students to get support from their parents in countries in lockdown.. so all international students should get support.

  7. International students got the visa to study in Australia on the condition that they support themselves financially with funds from home. They agreed to those terms. The 20 hour and now 40 hour work permit these days in some cases were just a bonus. Not everyone worked especially those doing higher degrees in universities even though they had the option. Now that for some no work exists, international students who cannot support themselves should pack their bags promptly and go back to their home country. They cannot be offered money from Australian citizen and permanent resident taxpayers. Let me state the example of Aussie have to charter flight on their own and get out of India. Did those Aussie claim funds from Indian govt. then there are Aussie who lost their jobs in USA, Europe etc. and came back to Australia – did they claim from those foreign governments and even if they had claimed, would those foreign governments have paid or used the funds to look after their own citizens. International students should go back home and seek support from their own government. People lose jobs all the time everywhere but govt cannot step in and help every time. Let’s take the example of jet airways and kingfisher airlines – tens of thousands of jobs were lost – did Indian govt pay those who lost jobs monies? No they did not. So international students, you came here to study and not to work and claim Australian taxpayer funds and now you should go back home.

  8. With Australia’s “turn back to your home country”attitude, even the international students are the 4th best economy, I hope Australia lose all international students in the future. Canada is a better option where international students are supported.

  9. Just wanted to share the we are facing due to the current situation. My sister is a student in Deakin university Melbourne, currently doing her finial semester due to finish end of June in two months. Her financial sponsors were my mom, me and my aunt. My aunt was going to pay for the final semester and currently due to full lock down in Srilanka unable to finance it due to business losses and having to pay her business loans.
    Let the university know about this and requested to pay in installments or for an extension. All they provided only one week extension to pay the fees in full. Saying otherwise they will cancel her enrollment. Due to all banks being still closed and not processing loans in Sri lanka we are in a very difficult situation. We are not asking any universities to teach students for free but only to be a bit flexible and empathetic without looking at international students as only money making machines for them. Students should be able to differ this semester if they are facing financial problems due to the Covid situation, because it is not only Australia that is financially affected who are considered empathically, but the families of international students which some education institutes forgets very conveniently. All being said we are still uncertain if she is not going to have a chance to finish the course she worked hard for almost three years because we cannot pay half of her final semester fees.

    • unfortunately everyone is facing challenges so exemption for one means exemption for all and that would be for millions and that cannot be allowed to happen. your relative should go back to her home country

  10. not on aussei taxpayer monies. international students need to go back to their home country at this time as teh pm said. just like aussie have all come back from indian, usa and elsewhere. interantional students came here to study and their income here to support themselves not contribution to the economy. infact they are double dipping and their studies are actually being funded by the aussie economy and that neds to stop. aussie welfare for aussie only. just like it is in every other country

  11. I agree with you Alan. These foreign students are using the back and easy ways of getting their residency in our country and that should stop! If they come here to study, they should only do studying and nothing else. It is a bonus that the government is giving them 20 hours a week to work, which I don’t agree. In fact most of these students are working under the table and getting cash undeclared.

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