We all know the COVID-19 pandemic has posed some unprecedented challenges. It’s reshaped how we work, study and keep in touch with our loved ones. We’re living in difficult times – that’s why it’s now more important than ever to support each other.
At La Trobe, we’ve been working hard to provide support to international students both online and on campus. International Student Services Manager Joanna Shaw and her team have developed a range of initiatives to help students feel supported mentally, physically and financially.
The Victorian Government’s International Student Emergency Relief Fund will also provide some welcome support to international students who have lost their job or had a significant reduction to their employment and are facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
‘This weird time is challenging but it doesn’t need to be lonely,’ says Shaw.
‘Staying connected and feeling like a part of a community is a vital part of online study. At La Trobe we have lots of ways to help you get connected and feel part of our fabulous student community.’
From virtual meet-ups and financial flexibility to emergency food vouchers and 24/7 student support, here’s how we’re helping our international students.
1. International student lounge – now live online
Want to stay connected? We’ve moved our international student lounge online. Twice a week, we host live lounge sessions so students can log on and get support, share ideas and chat with each other and with our staff.
‘It’s a great way to stay engaged and connected during this strange time,’ says Shaw.
To find out about upcoming sessions, follow the International Student Services Facebook page.
2. Student wellbeing support services
Need a bit of extra support right now? International student support is now available whenever you need it. Request a welfare call and a staff member from the Student Wellbeing Team will contact you to provide the support you need.
You can reach out to them online or call 1800 758 360.
3. Food supplies and grocery vouchers
La Trobe has been awarded more than A$12 million in bursaries – A$530 000 of this has been raised through the La Trobe Student Crisis Appeal, contributed to by La Trobe staff, alumni, students and other friends of the University.
Thanks to our partnership with Medibank, we’re offering A$10 000 in emergency food vouchers for international students in need. We’re also in regular contact with the local councils around our campuses about potential ways to help our international students access food and basic goods such as weekly grocery vouchers, food parcels and pre-made meals.
4. Online E-Buddy program
Our face-to-face Buddy program has been moved online. It’s the perfect way to meet new people, learn about other cultures, practice other languages and connect with other students from around the world.
For more information, contact the International Student Services team.
5. Fees and enrolment flexibility
To help take the pressure off, we’ve deferred international student fee deadlines by more than three months and have permitted students to underload. We’re also refunding fees for subjects not taken rather than carrying them forward as credit to fund future studies. You also have the option to pause your studies or take a leave of absence. We’ve also created a new term intake option so you don’t have to put your degree on hold.
For a full list of eligible courses, commencement dates and scholarship options, visit our website.
6. Health and fitness at home
Staying active and keeping those endorphins going is essential to our mental and physical wellbeing. La Trobe Sport is running all sorts of free online classes to stay fit and healthy during COVID-19. #ActivationInIsolation activities include yoga, Pilates, a push-up challenge and more. Join in the fun with staff and students on YouTube.
7. Reaching out
We want to find out how you’re doing and what you need to help move through this difficult time. So we’ve brought on an additional 200 staff to help us reach out to every single student – that’s a total of 33,000 phone calls.
Our International Student Services team is always here to help. Find out more about our international student support.