The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious and rapidly changing situation and it is now more important than ever for education agents to ensure students studying overseas feel supported during this challenging time. This can include providing information on health services, answering OSHC policy queries and assisting with additional money transfers to help students who have lost jobs. We have compiled some tips and useful resources for international students that might help you during this period.
Mental health and wellness
The world we find ourselves in today is very different to what we were used to, and for students who are in a foreign city and may be without family or friends, this can be a time of stress and anxiety.
It’s so important that students stay in touch with friends and family by phone, email or social media at this time to maintain their mental health. Video chat can combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, with apps such as Zoom and Google Hangouts offering great free video calls as well as with Houseparty which adds another dimension with online gameplay.
Health and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
Whether students are feeling unwell or not, it is important to know and understand what their OSHC policy covers. And to know that COVID-19 does not change any of the benefits associated with OSHC cover. For more information on the specific cover relating to each health provider and the policies they offer, read our blog on what OSHC covers during COVID-19.
If students are feeling physically unwell or think they may have contracted COVID-19, health information and advice is available in English and multiple languages, on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
CBHS International Health also offers great resources to help identify symptoms and advice on what to do if a student suspects they might be ill. Check it out here.
It’s very important that students stay in touch with their education provider during this time for any updates and information on accessing online classes. Many universities have already taken their classes online or have paused them altogether to plan to move them online. This includes lectures available via email or the university website and some are even being live-streamed to create a virtual classroom experience.
Many businesses in the retail and hospitality industry have been severely affected and may have closed down, putting many international students out of work. The Australian Government has relaxed restrictions on international students who are employed by select supermarkets and those enrolled in nursing, allowing employers to offer more hours to international students. For more information on working in Australia, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.
If students are without work and now find themselves in the position of needing additional funds from back home, we want to help. We promise to lock in the best FX rates with no transaction fee on every money transfer, and our team will ensure students receive your funds as fast as possible, at a time when you need them the most. Make a funds transfer here.
If students have any concerns about their accommodation they should contact their accommodation provider. If the student currently holds a lease, the usual rights and responsibilities apply. Rights and responsibilities are different based on which state the student lives in, please refer to that states Consumer Affairs website.
The Australian Government has introduced a 6-month moratorium on evictions on rental arrears if students are experiencing financial hardship or disadvantage due to COVID-19. This means that if students are unable to pay rent because of loss of job during this time, they will not be evicted for at least 6 months.
Students can attempt to negotiate with their landlords, it’s good to be proactive. But students should be cautious about agreeing to rent deferrals where students have to pay back the rent later – this may cause significant issues later on. Find out more information about renting during COVID-19 here.
We hope these tips help you to support your students through these tough times, and we are always here to help if you need more information.
Take care of yourselves.