What is the support international students need?

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Community volunteers hold virtual meet with Indian students to understand their Covid19 concerns

Covid19 has wreaked havoc with the lives of students in Australia, especially international students. In an attempt to quell some of the fears that students have, volunteers from various community organisations held a web conference for students from five Victorian Universities to understand their worries.

Organised by Karthik Arasu (International Students Support group), Gurinder Kaur (Sikh Community Connections) and Harpreet Singh (Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, Officer) on Saturday, eight students participated in the Zoom discussion aimed at identifying matters where the community could lend support. These students were from Deakin University, Federation University Australia, RMIT, Swinburne University of Technology, and University of Melbourne.

The meeting began on a positive note with students expressing gratitude to their universities for the help offered so far, ranging from groceries to emotional support. A road map for the future help was also outlined.

Several of the students expressed confusion over the recently announced Victorian Government package for International students and sought more details about support. There was universal displeasure over the Federal support, even though education industry was a major source of revenue for Australia.

Gurinder Kaur said, “Students need to prepare for the post-COVID world and need to upskill in several areas such as building resilience, resume writing, better financial management.”

Karthik Arasu suggested students also support students from other institutes such as TAFEs and create a blog to get answers on any issues faced by them.

The students were also concerned about their visas, especially those were graduating soon. They desired more clarity on their temporary visa and its validity given that job prospects will diminish once they graduate and it may be difficult for them to find jobs related to their skills and education.

While material support was coming from the community and widely welcomed by students, there was a concern for mental health issues, especially for students who have just started their studies in 2020. It was pointed that some of the students who came in February and March have not even so far visited CBD or explored their universities and facilities offered.

It was pointed that most students are also struggling with data offered on plans by telecom companies, given that they cannot afford bigger data packages and most of their learning is happening online.

“Go beyond your comfort zone and network with international students from other countries to assist them in this difficult world, especially since you are now in a multicultural country,” advised Harpreet Singh.


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