QUT staff dig deep to help student emergency fund
Generous QUT staff and supporters have donated more than $122,000 to the QUT Emergency Student Support Fund over the past three months to help students who are struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The additional money raised has enabled an extra 159 students to receive emergency bursaries, on top of the hundreds of students already being helped by QUT's existing emergency budget.
QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil said that, pre-COVID, the University already had significant financial supports for domestic and international students who were experiencing financial hardship.
However, she said the pandemic had created unprecedented demand on those existing schemes.
Many QUT students have been affected financially, mainly through job losses that have impacted their own income or their family’s income.
“Some students can call on family for support and some have access to government payments – but others have no-one to turn to except the University itself,” Professor Sheil said.
“The University immediately topped up the existing QUT Equity scholarships scheme from $5 million to $5.6 million; the computer scheme from 150 to 240 free laptops; and our emergency fund from $200,000 to $400,000.
“As well, we created an additional International Student COVID-19 Hardship Fund as international students have been particularly hard hit and do not have direct access to government support.
“Our QUT community of staff, alumni and other supporters have stepped up to help and donated to these two funds. Their speedy and generous response has been admirable.”
Thirty percent of donors to the emergency fund over the past three months have been QUT staff.
Professor Sheil said support schemes had been immediately scaled up to deal with the new demand, using existing needs-based assessment processes.
“Each student, both domestic and international, has their financial situation individually assessed, and the size of any payment is proportionate to their level of need,” she said.
“Payments of up to $1500 help students with food, rent and study expenses. Our objective is to prevent students dropping out for financial reasons.”
One of the QUT students who has received an emergency bursary said he was grateful for the much-needed financial support.
“This has taken a huge weight off my shoulder,” he said.
“I worked at a gym and that was one of the first things to close sadly.”
The QUT Equity Scholarship Scheme is the largest university scheme of its kind in Australia and distributes more than $5 million each year to low-income students. This assistance includes $3500 scholarships and $1500 bursaries, with over 150 laptops also given out each year through the Equity Computer Scheme.
Prior to the pandemic, around 3000 students benefited each year from the program, including all commencing Indigenous Students, Smith Family applicants, and Educational Access Scheme - Financial Hardship students.
The State Government has also recently provided generous support to QUT through its $10 million state-wide international education assistance and recovery package. This support comprises a one-off grant payment that will allow QUT to continue to assist international students at risk.
QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon, email@example.com
- (after hours) Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901