Pakistani Missions in Australia are in close contact with local authorities as well as leadership of the Pakistani Diaspora to ensure the wellbeing of our students. The High Commissioner himself spoke with some leading members of the community to better coordinate welfare of the Pakistani students’ fraternity.

The High Commissioner wrote to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Home Department and Education Department highlighting difficulties and issues faced by Pakistani students and recommendations to address these. Letters were also written to the leadership of the various universities across Australia where Pakistani students are enrolled. The High Commissioner pressed upon the Universities to take concrete measures to ensure that Pakistani students experience substantial financial and academic relief during this pandemic. Besides, letter has also been sent to CEO of TAFE Australia and CEO OF Universities Australia.

Leadership of these universities, in response, have assured the High Commissioner of their full support to our students in this difficult time. A gist of responses from some of the Universities contacted is given below:

Monash University also announced a $15 million Student Compassionate and Hardship package for students suffering financial difficulties. This package will be available to any eligible students, including undergraduate, postgraduate, who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. All eligible students can apply for an emergency immediate payment of $500 and payment up to A$7,000 after 14 April 2020. Other support initiatives may be seen in the attached letter.

La Trobe University has assured that they are striving hard to meet the needs of students during this tough time. They have also established a Financial Assistance Program that includes a $3000 Crisis Support Scholarship for students experiencing significant financial crisis and housing insecurity; and an emergency relief fund that provides one-off payments for essentials such as food. Further information may be seen in the attached letter. The University is providing counselling and advice services remotely, and delivering information to students on their website, through social media, on request via phone and email, and via online group chats and individual meetings.

Swinburne University has established a $600,000 Swinburne Student Emergency Fund for one-off grants to students experiencing financial difficulties. The due date for tuition fees has been extended to 31 May 2020. Detailed response with regard to various support and facilitation measures by the University may be seen in the attached letter.

University of Newcastle has established a Student Hardship Fund of $10 million for students’ emergency needs – from funding meals, helping pay bills, assisting with accommodation for those in great need etc. The University has also;
• Announced that students enrolled in Semester 1 courses will receive an automatic 14 calendar day extension for any one assessment item within each of their courses, without having to submit a formal Adverse Circumstances application.
• Relaxed the requirement for supporting documentation for those students seeking an extension through the Adverse Circumstances process for courses in Semester 1, 2020
• Decided that any students who fail a subject in Semester 1 or Trimester 1 will NOT have a ‘fail’ recorded on their academic transcript. The subject will not appear on their academic transcript at all until they pass it. This is intended to remove unnecessary anxiety.

University of Queensland informed that, in response to our letter, they have asked their Student Services Team to reach out to the Pakistani Student Club to ensure that they are aware of the options available from UQ to assist them in their studies. UQ has a student Hardship Fund, however, and no one from the Pakistani student community had applied to this Fund till the time of University’s response to the High Commission. The University, therefore, has communicated with the Pakistani Students Club directly to promote assistance from the Fund. A number of specific facilitation and study supports offered by the UQ may be seen in the University’s letter below.

Griffith University has assured that their response to COVID-19 has placed welfare and wellbeing of students at the centre. Besides extending the due date for international tuition they have supported Pakistani International Students from the Hardship Fund, allowing instalments of tuition fees, helping in accommodation crisis and access to food. The University has advised Pakistani students to call 1800 STUDYQ and look at University’s website www.griffith.edu.au/in-this-together for detail information regarding the benefits.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has announced that, among other facilities, students may be eligible for an Emergency Bursary if they are in need of urgent financial assistance as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Students are advised to benefit from QUT’s support services. University’s specific responses with regard part-time enrolment, census dates, tuition fees, progression rules, HDR milestone and withdrawal of offers may be seen in the letter attached below.

University of Southern Queensland has iterated its commitment to ensure students’ wellbeing as a priority. They have advised the students to contact students’ relationship officer at usq.support@usq.edu.au for addressing their issues individually. The USQ has announced student support package including assisting students who have lost employments. Further details may be seen in the letter attached.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) has informed that it has established a support grant scheme for international students. The University had received applications from 37 Pakistani students till the time of sending the letter. The ECU has assured that they would do whatever possible within their means to look after their international students.

Adelaide University has announced a Student Support Package having three aspects; (i) academic support, (ii) wellbeing, and (iii) emergency financial support. They have advised Pakistani students in need to apply for relief.

The University of Canberra appreciated High Commission’s efforts to support Pakistani International Students during this very difficult time. The University has put in place an emergency package to support students experiencing financial hardship. The University has advised that our international students may convey their needs or concerns by email to welfare@canberra.edu.au so that these may be handled individually.

Charles Darwin University has conveyed a series of financial help and welfare measures for international students including support in financial, food, job, delay in census date, extension in fee deadline, reduction in study load etc. Details may be seen in the attached letter.

Pakistani International Students are requested to disseminate the information regarding various financial and academic relief offered by the Australian Universities to their fellow students.

Students are welcome to suggest more Universities which may be approached by the High Commission.