International students doing it tough during COVID-19

Curtin University International students have their say in response to the COVID-19 situation. Video by: Christopher Tan.

International students in Australia bring $39 billion a year into the economy as education is the nation’s fourth-largest industry.

Although domestic students are eligible for Jobseeker payouts, 565,000 international students have to use their superannuation funds, but only if they have been in the country for longer than 12-months.

With foreign students being told “it’s time to go home” and the government’s gap in support for international students, Curtin University first-year student Jason Hoang is left in a difficult position.

Just two months in Perth, this is Jason’s story, a first-year Curtin University International student. Video by: Christopher Tan.

Council for International Students of WA Kevin McKenna says it’s time for the government to give back to international students as they play a big role in the Australian economy.

“[International students] support 240,000 jobs and they rely on their part time jobs to provide food and accommodation to help pay their tuition fees,” he says.

“Many of the students do not come from wealthy families.

“If students return home, it will cause long lasting damage to what is currently a highly valuable industry.”

As the WA government’s recent scheme allows international students to stay on for an extra year on a post-study work visa, many international students have chose to return home during the pandemic.

A conversation with Yuka, who recently returned home after studying in Australia for more than three years. Photo: Christopher Tan.
Curtin University Guild President Hana Arai’s address to the issue. Video by: Christopher Tan.

Curtin University Guild President Hana Arai says the government’s response has left international students stranded, but the university will continue to extend its support.

“My understanding of the situation right now is that, you do not have to go home,” she said.

“If you are struggling to feed yourself, pay your rent, or study, do not suffer in silence, please reach out.

“There are services available, try to take advantage of them if you can.”

The Curtin Student Guild has recently secured new academic measures in response to the shift to online study, which include removing penalties for late submission.

The Guild’s latest petition is the demand for a significant reduction in fees for both domestic and International students.