Ms Patten: My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Higher Education in this place and the action I seek is for the Minster to investigate the state government support options for international students.
The international education sector has warned that Australia is putting at risk one of its largest industries if it does not do more to help foreign students through the Covid19 crisis.
The International Education Association of Australia has called for a hardship fund for foreign students, many who have lost their jobs as the pandemic ravages the retail and hospitality sectors.
Given the industry is worth 39 billion dollars annually to the country, some 13.5 billion of that spent in Victoria, it would therefore follow that we owe these students who contribute so much to our state, some form of help during the Covid19 crisis.
As the IEAA has noted, not only do these students pay expensive tuition fees, as well as spending on things such as rent, food, entertainment and alike, many also have low-skilled and part time jobs
Currently these international students and other temporary visa holders have been told to return to their home countries if they were unable to support themselves.
With universities and private colleges already reeling from a collapse in revenue, the situation is likely to worsen later in the year when international students traditionally enroll in big numbers.
International students are not eligible for federal government welfare or for the new JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes. Many have lost their jobs and their homes, or live in fear of both.
Education Minister Dan Tehan has said that the government would work with universities and the international education sector to find “innovative ways to support international students” – which is about as clear as mud.
I ask the Minister for Higher Education to urgently review what state government support options for she can make available International Students as soon as is possible.