Five umbrella organizations of education consultancies working for Nepali students in Nepal and Australia have issued a joint press release, requesting the Government of Australia, Embassy of Australia in Nepal, Australian High Commission in India, Australian education providers, Australian communities, Embassy of Nepal in Australia and other stakeholders to provide the necessary support to Nepali students in Australia in this hour of global coronavirus threat.
“COVID-19 is taking a toll on us and we all across the globe are having a hard time. The Government of Nepal has already imposed nationwide lockdown since March 24. The Government of Australia and its states are also in line to impose tough measures, including complete lockdown for few weeks or months if necessary. This is a good step towards preventing the spread and mutation of the virus. However, we are also very much concerned about the Nepali students, who are pursuing studies across Australia and also students who have already paid tuition fees and received their visas or are waiting for the visas in Nepal but are not able to travel to Australia due to COVID-19 pandemic,” read the press release of Educational Consultancy Association of Nepal, Free Education Consultancy Organisations of Nepal, International Education Representatives Initiative of Nepal, Nepali Association of Australia Education Representatives and Australian Education Consultants Alliance.
Australia has been one of the favored destinations for studies abroad among Nepali students and Nepal is one of the biggest markets for Australian educational institutions which has contributed a huge revenue to the Australian economy.
“For Australia, it is important to act fast to help the students in need because if we can save our students from this crisis, it will save our education industry for the coming years,” it stated.
The Australian government has announced some relief packages for local businesses and citizens. However, there are many international students who are in need of some sort of urgent support and they are waiting to hear from the government and the stakeholders to help them live and study in Australia in the coming months.
There are lots of job cuts and definitely the international students are also hit by this job crisis, it read.
“Hence, we would like to humbly request the authorities concerned to take steps to safeguard Nepali students’ interest to study and live in Australia,” the organizations stated.
They have appealed to Australian education providers and government agencies to shift the students of new intake (February/March 2020) to the next intake or give them a one-year time frame to join colleges.
They have also urged the concerned government agencies to refund 100 percent of tuition fees of Nepali students in Australia if they wanted to return home and continue their studies in Nepal.
They have also called on the Australian authorities to provide scholarship opportunities to the international students who wish to commence their studies in July 2020, reduce tuition fees by at least 25 percent or more with immediate effect for all online trainings or classes that are ongoing in various universities across Australia until the session is deferred.
They have also urged to facilitate student-visa extension for nine months for current international students who couldn’t complete their academic programmes due to COVID-19 and provide financial support or subsidy to the students for up to six months or until the situation is under control to cover their partial living expenses.
A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.