By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 4 Apri 2020: Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Australia wants its 565,000 international students to fend for themselves. The government says in a press statement, “As part of their visa application, international students have had to demonstrate that they can support themselves completely in their first year.” What status international students have after the first year is not known. Plus, overseas students face the grim reality of so many small businesses closed wiping out casual jobs.
In his media conference on 3 April, PM Scott Morrison said, ” “They’re obviously not held here compulsorily. If they’re not in a position to support themselves, then there is an alternative for them to return to their home countries.”
The PM said it was “lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times”. But now they should “make your way home” and “ensure that you can receive the supports that are available…in your home countries.
“At this time, Australia must focus on its citizens. Our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.”
The rather grim news is reinforced from a media statement from the office of The Hon Alan Tudge MP, Minister For Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs who says in a media statement emailed on the morning of 4 April 2020:
“All students who come to Australia…have to give a warranty that they are able to support themselves for the first 12 months of their study. That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government, that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.
There are 565,000 international students in Australia, mainly studying in the higher
education or vocational education sector. They are an important contributor to our tertiary
sector and economy, supporting 240,000 Australian jobs.
Students are encouraged to rely on family support, part-time work where available and their
own savings to sustain themselves in Australia. As part of their visa application,
international students have had to demonstrate that they can support themselves
completely in their first year.
Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial
hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.
The Government will undertake further engagement with the international education sector
who already provides some financial support for international students facing hardship. For
example, we understand there are some education providers that are providing fee
discounts to international students.
The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented
international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able to attend classes).
International students are able to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.
International students working in aged care and as nurses have had these hours extended to
support these critical sectors.
International students working in the major supermarkets had also had these hours
extended to help get stock on shelves during the high demand. From 1 May, their hours will
return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles.”
There are at present 2.17 million people on temporary visas in Australia. This includes 8,000 skilled medical professionals, 203,000 international visitors, 565,000 international students, 672,000 New Zealanders on subclass 444 visas, 118,000 on Working Holiday Visas which have work rights and another 185,000 other temporary visa holders.