Flinders welcomes govt support for international students

A $13.8m package for international education, including $10m to provide much needed financial support for international students has been welcomed by Flinders University as marking South Australia as a compassionate place and education destination of choice.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the state government has listened to the sector and responded in a meaningful way to help Universities to help their students.

‘For many decades Flinders University has welcomed international students. They have been pillars of our local community through their important social, cultural and economic contributions as well as being great ambassadors for South Australia when they return home’ Professor Stirling says.

Professor Stirling says due to the unprecedent impact of COVID-19, international students have found their worlds turned upside down.

‘Many of them have lost the work they needed to support them during their study and are finding it hard to make ends meet – whether it’s paying rent, managing to eat, or accessing the resources they need to keep studying in the virtual classroom. They can’t necessarily rely on the financial support of family back home who are also struggling with the consequences of the pandemic. It is a challenging and uncertain time’ he says.

‘Flinders University has recently established a $12.5 million Student Support Package that is being funded by staff, alumni and university contributions and the contribution by the State Government will go a significant way towards supporting the needs of our international students impacted by COVID-19.

‘The announcement of this hardship fund speaks volumes about how South Australia, Flinders University and all local SA universities welcome and support the international student community and demonstrates unequivocally that our state is a destination of choice for those seeking a world-class education in a safe and compassionate environment’ Professor Stirling says.

Flinders University and UniSA will each receive $3 million, with the University of Adelaide receiving the $4 million balance.

Vice-President and Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Sebastian Raneskold says Higher Education is the state’s largest export and a valuable investment in our global relationships.

‘Universities are significant contributors to the state economy through international education, through domestic education to build knowledge and employability, through research, and through jobs and community networks.

“Our international students don’t just make a valuable financial contribution in exchange for world class learning, they make an extraordinary ongoing contribution as our alumni who take their knowledge around the world and in this way every one of our students is a valuable investment.

‘Since Flinders University established its $12.5m student support fund, which includes $1m in emergency cash grants, 74% of the approved applications for emergency funding have been for international students.

‘We have strongly expanded support services, explored new innovative ways of staying engaged with our international student through our Colleges, international students services and student association, reflecting the challenges our students are facing – and as such, the state government’s support is deeply welcomed and recognises the exceptional demands and unique circumstances our international students face,’ Mr Raneskold says.

Education Minister David Ridgway says it is important to keep the sector strong as it underpins many thousands of South Australian jobs, which will be critical on the other side of the pandemic.

“International education plays an important role in South Australia’s economy as the state’s largest export sector and we know students are having a tough time at the moment as they don’t qualify for Commonwealth Government income support in response to the COVID-19 impacts.

“Every four international student enrolments creates one new job and 2018-19 saw our international students contribute $1.92 billion to South Australia’s economy – with more than half of this usually spent in the community on living expenses.

“International students also play a role in contributing to the state’s skills needs and strengthening our global connections into the future. They are very much a part our community and we are keen to ensure they are supported at this difficult and uncertain time.”

“Ensuring international students are supported as much as possible will assist in maintaining South Australia’s global reputation for international education and will provide peace of mind for the families of these students living thousands of kilometres away from them as we face such an uncertain time.”

Minister Ridgway says the State Government’s international student support package includes:
• $10 million fund for university students significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions at the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia to distribute to their pathway and international students.
• A $500 emergency cash grant to other international students significantly impacted by the restrictions currently enrolled in a higher-education course, living in South Australia and who meet the criteria
• A one-off $200 assistance payment per student living with South Australian families provided to homestay families.

Read the State Government’s media release here.

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