International student support welcomed, but more support needed for graduate students
The impact of COVID-19 on international students and the closure of Australia’s borders has presented various challenges to students’ financial situations, mental health and enrolment. This has led to many international students taking leaves of absence or study load reductions while they wait for borders to open.
Following extensive lobbying on these issues, GSA welcomes today’s announcement from the University to expand financial assistance to international students. GSA President Jeremy Waite welcomes the financial assistance for international students, which includes a package to reduce the financial burden of returning to Australia, along with an expansion of merit-based scholarships for international coursework students. GSA has been actively urging the University to offer this support to international students, particularly those who are offshore.
The University has also announced a range of scholarships for coursework students aimed at increasing accessibility of graduate courses. While we welcome the expansion of the Graduate Scholarship program, student fees are already too high and set to rise in future years, which will quickly offset the equity impact of this scholarship. Further, we are disappointed that most current graduate students are left out and that no scheme considering students’ financial needs was included in today’s announcements.
However, GSA President Jeremy Waite said, “The University must invest in tangible support for its current students and not just in marketing to prospective students. With unacceptably high course fees for full-fee paying graduate students and the myriad pressures of the pandemic, both the University and the Federal Government must provide an affordable, if not free education to all–they are certainly in a position to do so.”
Ultimately, GSA welcomes the supports announced today by the University as an important step in the right direction, although it looks forward to discussions with the University on more equitably support for current graduate students, both coursework and research, to achieve their potential at the University of Melbourne.
Jeremy Waite, GSA President