Lobbies back bigger benefits for local students and ask about internationals

The feds have extended the $225 a week Coronavirus supplement, to students on Austudy, Abstudy and Youth Allowance. Uni lobbies like it a lot

One expected result is that young people will not drop-out of study to score the higher benefit now being paid to job-seekers, (another might be students not going hungry or homeless).

Conor King (Innovative Research Universities) thanks the government for “quickly accepting” the argument the move was needed.  “Extending the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible students will remove the perverse incentive for young people to stop studying, during this particularly challenging time.”

Universities Australia agrees, “many students were weighing up whether they could continue to study and pay the rent and will be hugely relieved by this announcement,” CEO Catriona Jackson says.

The Regional Universities Network also “welcomes” the policy change. Chair Helen Bartlett says it will help member students who lose their jobs to, “stay studying at university in regional Australia.”

And the Australian Technology Network points out 230 000 FT students receive the payments. They will be, “an important part of our economic recovery after the crisis, but they need our support to get through this now,” acting ED Sally Way says

Students giving up study would also be a blow to universities.

If they left before census dates, institutions would not receive first semester government payments for their study.

Internationals also in need

Mr King points to international students who do not qualify for the new payment but who, “may struggle to make ends meet during the current crisis.”

National Union of Students president Molly Wilmott extends the argument and offers a solution.

Ms Willmott calls for extending the virus payment to internationals and visa changes to allow them to study part-time. She also has ideas for universities, including delaying census dates by a month, to allow internationals to assess study-load now courses are on-line. And she urges institutions to reduce course fees by 20 per cent. “International students, who already pay a premium for education in Australia are now paying for rent, overseas student health cover insurance, visa costs and living expenses for an on-line degree they could receive anywhere in the world.”