A tumultuous year, compounded by disturbances to teaching delivery, has left international students disillusioned with their investment in education at UoA, and underrepresentation for their interests.
These concerns have led third-year international student Varsha Ravi towards petitioning for more action from the university and Ministry of Education, amassing over 100 signatures so far.
“Originally, I thought it was just my friends and I who were fed up and upset with the quality of education this year,” says Ravi, “but whilst I was in the running for ISO, the massive amount of international students that shared this feeling was brought to light.”
Ravi’s petition calls for international students to receive financial compensation for their education being affected. Possible solutions include tuition fee relief, papers offered at free or domestic rate, or assistance with accommodation fees.
“We do not want [the university] to just acknowledge that there are COVID relief funds and hardship funds – those are only applicable on a personalised basis,” says Ravi. “We want a decision that favours and is applicable to all international students.”
Ravi also holds underlying concerns about how international students are perceived and treated by the university. “[Our] community has been used for the tokenistic term “diversity” but reaps minimal benefits for this multicultural education system we contribute to.”
Meanwhile, AUSA have made the late decision to appoint an interim International Students Officer (ISO), with Afiqah Ramizi stepping into the role. After originally leaving the position vacant since the start of the year, AUSA have told students not appointing a stand-in “was a mistake, and we apologize.”
Ramizi’s plans for the remainder of the year include establishing a committee for the ISO to lead and engage with, holding an online hui including offshore students, and to begin conversations with senior university officials about International Student fees for 2021.
While Ravi believes this decision should have been made at the earliest opportunity, she admits it is “better late than never.”
“We needed someone to navigate this battle through the institution and hopefully we have now found that person through the interim ISO.“
You can visit the petition via the following link: https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-education-international-students-deserve-tuition-fee-relief