Ziying (Nicole) Huang, Mengfan (Karen) Ji, Mingyu (Moses) Lin, Kigen Mera
Week 10, Semester 2, 2020
One major crisis for International students now is the staff cut to the Learning Centre that the university management is currently proposing. The Learning Centre has been aiding International students for a long time, and the abolition of the English Learning Centre, in particular, will cause great detriment, especially to commencing students. Most International students have English as their second language and having to study at an institution with high expectations without the necessary linguistic supports will no doubt devalue the education quality. Additionally, a large number of international students are enrolled in math, engineering and business subjects, which requires extensive mathematical calculations. The language barrier some international students have may make some concepts in math difficult, and the Math Learning Centre can provide such aid to those who may not have a clear understanding of certain concepts. Moreover, the Student Life Survey (2020) indicated that 85.8% of survey respondents agree or strongly agree that the Learning Centre is an important service for the student community, which means that the service must maintain readily available to students.
In response, there will be a protest and a petition to oppose these changes. Unfortunately, due to the travel restrictions, many international student’s geographical locations, including myself, makes it impossible to attend the protest. However, we are currently working on making sure that the petition can reach more students to show our support for the student centre.
Week 4, Semester 2, 2020
The issues that international students face every day are still persistent. A recent study done by Union NSW indicates that 3% of surveyed international students have lost their homes, and an astounding 46% has decided to reduce their meal intake to 2 meals a day to combat the financial difficulties. The fact that international students contributed so much to the Australian economy and are now struggling to feed themselves is quite heartbreaking to see. To somewhat improve the situation, we have recently been contacting Food Not Bombs, an all-volunteer movement that recovers food that would otherwise be discarded and provides them to people in need. The event takes place every Thursday at Marrickville. We think that this is an excellent opportunity for international students who are currently struggling to get food to seek support from this organization.
Week 1, Semester 2, 2020
As the COVID-19 situation is still dire around the globe, we have postponed the previous plans for the collective to organize protests on the fair fare until the situation eases, and international students are allowed back into Australia. With many students still barred from entering Australia, we are receiving significantly fewer student inquiries. However, we will continue to answer student issues and direct them to the correct department. There seems to be little hope that international students overseas will be able to return to Australia before the commencement of semester two. Many faculties have now started offering online teaching options to students unable to return to Australia and face-to-face teaching to students who are in NSW. This proposal may raise many potential issues for international students.
First and foremost, it undermines the teaching quality for students overseas. As seen from last semester’s experience, online stream poses many issues for students abroad, including internet connection issues, malfunctioning assessment webpage, and a lack of opportunity to participate in class as usual. Additionally, assessments may separate into online and face-to-face. In that case, the fact that only a portion of students enrolled in the online stream does not give an accurate measure of each individual’s academic ability. Students who take online assessments will be significantly disadvantaged if there are any internet holdbacks, which is very likely. International students are also paying full tuition fees while missing out on campus amenity that students in Australia are having.
For students currently within Australia, they are also facing many issues never encountered before. For instance, many countless international students are now facing unemployment and are suffering financially. Currently, international students are blocked international students from accessing Federal income support through the crisis. We are working with GetUp and Colour Code to lend help to temporary visa holders in Australia by doing what we can to grant international students’ access to Federal income support.
We have also recently gained access to the old international student officers’ Facebook page and group. We will start working on developing a less complex network to distribute information and a more effective way to pass on the social media account to the next generation of international student officers.
Week 9, Semester 1, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 has made the collective’s activism very difficult if not impracticable. The International Student Collective is a relatively new collective, without students who are keen to attend regular events, holding weekly events became very difficult. The first international edition of Honi Soit turned out to be quite a success with the help of all the Honi editors and contributors. We were able to raise many contemporary issues international students are facing and promote cultural sharing in languages other than English.
Although events are largely stopped, we are still making sure that international students who come to us for help are directed to the correct area. The most difficult issue for international students now is likely the rent issue. International students who cannot return to Australia or cannot continue joint renting due to health or other concerns may find themselves in a difficult situation. We are also looking into getting fair fare activism going as soon as the COVID-19 situation eases.
To see that the coronavirus infection curve flattening in Australia is certainly a relief. We hope it will continue to get better in the future. However, with uncertainty, we still need to encourage everyone to keep safe and reduce the risks for themselves. We will keep updating the community with any new findings or situation changes.