$12.5m student support package

A $12.5 million comprehensive package to support students facing hardship as a result of COVID-19 has been announced by Flinders University.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the package offers a range of support for students, including cash payments, a new scholarship and waiver of fees.

“Students are grappling with a raft of unexpected challenges – many are isolated from their families and missing their physical, financial and emotional support” Professor Stirling says.

“Many of our students support themselves during their studies with part-time, casual work—some doing as many as two or three different jobs to make ends meet. However, these positions have greatly diminished as a result of the pandemic, especially in the hospitality sector. As a result, thousands of our students are now facing financial hardship and struggling to meet their basic living costs.

“While lectures have now been shifted to online delivery to keep our students safe from COVID-19, there is now a need for all students to have access to technology, though many simply do not have the funds to buy the resources needed.

“We estimate 4,000 of our domestic students will feel the greatest hardship from the pandemic. These are students who are already experiencing disadvantage from low socio-economic backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, those from rural and regional areas, and students with significant disabilities.

“And nearly half of our 3,500 international onshore students will need additional financial support at this time. There are no other financial supports available to these students and they cannot return to their home countries due to the travel restrictions currently in place” Professor Stirling says.

Key elements of the Flinders COVID-19 Student Support Package are:

• $1 million in emergency support payments for students, of up to $500, made available to students through the Flinders University Student Association

• A new Matthew Flinders Scholarship program, with scholarships valued at up to $2,000, to support the continuation of their studies

• The waiver of the Student Services and Amenities Fee for all students

“Our aim is to reduce financial stress so that students can continue their studies” Professor Stirling says.

The University has also established an Online Hub and Flinders Support Network to provide additional support across areas of potential need such as study, mental wellbeing and accommodation.

The University has set a fundraising target of $4m and is confident that the wider Flinders community will want to join the University to help support students to continue their education through the unprecedented challenges presented by this global pandemic.

“The alumni, donors, and friends of Flinders University have a deep community spirit and an unwavering sense of equity and fairness. Any gift they give will support students to complete their education and will be most deeply appreciated” he says.

Professor Stirling launched the fundraising initiative with a personal donation of $100,000. The members of his Senior Executive Team have combined to pledge nearly $200,000 more, and Professor Stirling says that “the generosity of my senior colleagues is a reflection of their deep personal commitment to the future success of our students, and it is my privilege to work with them.”

To contribute please visit the Flinders University website.

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