UNSW is providing support for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic, from financial and housing assistance to mental health support.
Student hardship support
UNSW has invested in four rounds of hardship funding since the beginning of the pandemic, totalling $9 million, supporting international students onshore in Australia who are impacted by COVID-19.
The University has also connected international students experiencing housing crisis with a scheme offered by StudyNSW to provide emergency housing. Two hundred and thirty-one UNSW students have applied for support under the scheme.
Additionally, UNSW created our own housing support for UNSW Students in 2021, offering temporary accommodation at a reduced rate for T2 and T3 for students at risk of homelessness due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Mental health support
The University has negotiated access to counselling services for offshore students ensuring that students overseas have access to mental health support outside of what would ordinarily be available to students on campus. This has allowed the University to ensure we are able to provide 24-hour confidential mental health support to all of our offshore international students when in need.
International students offshore can access a 24-hour support line by phoning +61 2 8905 0307. Another option is Mental Health Connect, a 24/7 access point which students can contact to receive immediate triage support and be channelled to the right help area for the issue by phoning 1300 787 026.
Supporting international students based in Sydney
For international students who are based in Sydney, UNSW has provided free breakfasts in Term 2 and the free breakfast program will continue in Term 3.
The University has also offered barista training courses for international students to equip them with valuable skills for potential casual and/or part-time work.
We know many international students have casual jobs in the gig economy, so the University is also planning to introduce free bike safety courses in Term 3.
In addition, Study NSW’s website hosts an International Student Welfare Services Hub which includes information on how international students can access services including emergency food relief, legal advice and wellbeing and mental health support.
Since Term 2 last year, the University has provided a Virtual Private Network solution enabling 9000 students studying remotely in China to seamlessly access UNSW online learning beyond the firewall.
More than 8000 new international students have successfully commenced orientation online since Australia’s borders closed in March 2020, with students participating in a series of events curated by Arc and Faculties to be virtually welcomed into the UNSW community.
Keeping connected with our students offshore has been a major focus. Our Live Chat service, offered out of the University's standard hours has connected over 700 offshore international students with a student mentor who provides confidential support, guidance and connection.
While we work on bringing back as many students as possible, we acknowledge that it is likely that some of our 2022 commencing students may begin their journey with us offshore. To help welcome these students into the UNSW community and connect them to other students, we will be creating in-country connection opportunities where new students will be able to make friends offshore before eventually joining us together, here in Sydney.
Overseas study centres
To aid students who continue to remain offshore, UNSW has piloted the provision of two learning centres in China. Here, students can come together to study or undertake laboratory projects. This has been particularly valuable for final year Engineering students seeking to complete their degrees and undertake local, industry internships.
Support for prospective international students
UNSW continues to engage offshore future students through a range of online activities including opportunities to meet with academics, attend seminars and workshops, and connect socially through social media apps and groups in key markets. This enables students to connect with their peers prior to starting their online studies.
Keeping connected with our students offshore has been a major focus. Our Live Chat service, offered out of the university's standard hours, has connected over 700 offshore international students with a student mentor who provides confidential support, guidance and connection.
While we work on bringing back as many students as possible, we acknowledge that it is likely that some of our 2022 commencing students may begin their journey with us offshore. To help welcome these students into the UNSW community and connect them to other students we will be creating in-country connection opportunities where new students will be able to make friends offshore before eventually joining us together, here in Sydney.
Return of students from overseas
We continue to work with the NSW Government on the pilot to return international students. We remain optimistic that this could commence before the end of the year if vaccination rates locally increase and lockdown eases. We are excited to begin to welcome our international students back on shore as soon as possible.