USQ gives helping hand to students in need - More than 1,100 applications for student support

International student MD Irteja Islam has been struggling to support himself and his family without a job for the last six weeks.
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The PhD student, who has less than a year left of his post-graduate studies, has received a lifeline in the form of the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Covid-19 Student Support Package.

In response to the uncertain times, the University developed the package to include a range of academic and financial support options.

So far more than 1,100 applications have been received from University students needing a helping hand.

MD expressed relief knowing that part of his living expenses will be covered for the next 12 weeks or until he can return to his job as a cleaner as he continues his study.

“I have been very worried but have had wonderful support from the University and they encouraged me to apply for the student package immediately,” he said.

“I applied and I am happy to inform you that it has been approved already.”

MD completed a Bachelor of Medicine in Bangladesh before receiving a scholarship to study his post-graduate degree in Australia.

“It has been a very difficult time to be honest with you,” he said.

“This support is a great help for me, in the time being, knowing that part of my living expenses can be paid and I can keep my house for at least for three more months.

“I am so thankful for this.”

The PhD student is one of many international and domestic students who have lost their jobs and face unexpected stress based on the Covid-19 pandemic.

USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the package was about providing support to our most vulnerable.

“We acknowledged that there was a great need for this in the current environment,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“We pride ourselves on the individual support we offer our students, and we’ve worked very hard behind the scenes to make the transition to online learning as smooth as possible in the past few weeks.

“We know how important it is for our students to receive the support they need and feel empowered to continue with their studies in this rapidly changing environment.”

Professor Mackenzie said the applications were split approximately 50/50 between international and domestic students which ranged in need of rent assistance to technology support for online learning.

“As part of the package students can apply for financial support to assist with living expenses, and access to technology and learning resources like textbooks and software,” she said.

“Some of the stories we are hearing throughout this application process are heart breaking.

“It is a difficult time for many and I encourage our students to stay focused and positive. We can get through this together.”

USQ employees and community members are also helping out with the launch of a staff-giving program to assist the student community.

Learn more about the Student Support Package.

man with black tshirt smiling at the camera
MD completed a Bachelor of Medicine in Bangladesh before receiving a scholarship to study his post-graduate degree in Australia.