BY RAJDEEP SINGH PURI
Monash University has announced an unprecedented $15 million “compassionate and hardship” package for students who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students must be enrolled to be eligible for a gratuity, with the university confirming both undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking “coursework and higher degree research” can apply.
However, Monash University will not announce the full eligibility criteria until next week, Monday at the soonest, leaving students temporarily in the dark as to whether or not they can receive an individual payment of up to $7500.
Masters of Communication and Media Studies student Kuber Padia praised the announcement and is optimistic it will apply to international students, including himself.
“It’s a welcome announcement at a time like this and it’ll help a lot of struggling students,” Mr Padia said.
“I’m pretty sure it would cover international students as long as they meet the hardship criteria.
“Everybody’s a Monash [University] student at the end of the day, unlike on a national level where the government benefits only go to tax-paying citizens - which is fair game,” he said.
Monash University confirmed the payment will be released in two stages: a $500 “immediate emergency payment”, followed by a payment of up to $7000 available from April 14.
In a statement issued to the media, the university wrote the package would be funded by “existing university resources and philanthropic support”.
“Since the beginning of this global health crisis, Monash has been committed to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of our students,” the statement read.
“This package is an extension of this so we are able to support our students financially while they continue their studies.”
While the Federal Government has provided stimulus packages for Australian citizens and residents, international students and individuals visiting on temporary visas are excluded from those benefits.
Centrelink's JobSeeker Payment excludes non-citizens and non-residents from payments of up to $1500 per fortnight.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday told reporters, people who could not support themselves in Australia should “return to their home countries”.
However, Monash student Kshitij Murali fears his international student status will similarly exclude him from Monash University’s package.
“International students are always seen as cash cows. We are never eligible for anything here,” Mr Murali said.
“People don't realise how precarious some students’ finances are when they decide to come here and the amount of savings and sacrifices their families have to make.
“Don't be too surprised if your application is rejected.”