BY EMILIO LANERA and PRANJALI SEHGAL
The Victorian Government’s $45 million emergency relief fund for international students will be consolidated with money from Monash University’s $15 million compassionate and hardship package, a university spokesperson has confirmed.
This means international students will only receive one payment, dashing any hopes of double-dipping.
“Eligible students will receive the government funding as part of the (up to) $7500 grant from Monash,” the university spokesperson said.
“It is not in addition to what students receive from Monash.”
The application process has been streamlined, with international students only needing to apply for the compassionate and hardship package to receive a grant.
Commerce student Gurpal Randhawa moved to Australia from India and has been out of work since the start of semester due to a collarbone injury.
He said he felt “blessed” to be supported by the university during these difficult times.
“I’ve got my expenses covered for about 10 to 12 weeks, plus the $500 emergency payment,” Mr Randhawa said.
“I have been dependent upon my savings and...my uncle, who I live with, has been covering my rent.”
Mr Randhawa is a casual employee at a 7/11 petrol station and said he hopes to return to work in the next couple of weeks.
Finance and computer science student Afaq Khan received a grant of $2490 and said the application process was “smooth” and straightforward.
“The financial situation as an international student has always been challenging but with coronavirus, it got worse,” Mr Khan said.
“My mum’s income back in Pakistan took a hit and it’s been really difficult for [my parents] to send me money.”
Mr Khan said it was a “sad reality” that he would be unable to gain funding from both the university and the government.
“I thought [the government fund] would be a separate fund allocated to students, independent of university grants.”
His application through Monash University was processed in 10 days, during which he contacted the university multiple times due to the urgency of his situation.
After learning about Mr Khan’s upcoming rent and expenses, the university processed his application the same day.
However, not all students are pleased with the time taken to process grant applications.
Postgraduate education student Elena Bozhkevich applied for the emergency grant more than a month ago and is still waiting for a response.
“I haven’t heard back from Monash and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be waiting,” Ms Bozhkevich said.
She is five months pregnant and is in the last semester of her degree.
“Because of the virus, I have gotten less work and it’s been difficult as my expenses are increasing and my salary is decreasing.
“The grant will make things easier,” she said.
Ms Bozhkevich’s student visa expires in August but she is currently unable to return to her family in Russia due to border closures.
To apply for the compassionate and hardship package, click here.