Uni Response to Coronavirus Shocks Chinese International Students

6 February 2020

Chinese international students are distressed by the University of Melbourne’s refusal to delay term dates, despite Australia banning travel from China in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement, which was also circulated via the Vice-Chancellor’s email on 3 February, indicated that no disruptions to the usual summer term and Semester One schedules would occur. It indicated that the University was providing “ongoing advice and support to students and staff.”

“Summer examinations are proceeding as scheduled from 17 February, orientation activities will commence on 24 February and semester one will commence on 2 March as planned,” the announcement read.

Several Chinese graduate students told Farrago about their disappointment in the University’s decision. Chen, who was a postgraduate student, noted that the travel ban has already affected their ability to resume their internship and apply for graduate roles. They were also angered at the lack of targeted assistance from the University; the consequences of remaining in China include visa delays and inability to find accommodation.

“The new policy is ill-considered, since the decision was made in such [a] short time,” they said via WeChat. 

These sentiments were echoed by JoJo, another Chinese graduate student who was ‘dissatisfied’ by the announcement. 

“Please don’t tar everyone with the same brush, and don’t impose double standards [on this situation] … When the broader student body and Chinese community need your support, please give it to them.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the travel ban on Saturday, preventing foreign nationals leaving or passing through mainland China from entering the country. It is understood to last at least two weeks, in an effort to contain the virus.

Other Australian universities have taken more drastic measures. Monash University recently announced a one-week delay to the start of Semester One, after a staff member was recently found to have been infected.

Students with difficulties due to the travel restrictions are encouraged to contact UMSU Advocacy for advice.

February 6, 4:56PM
The UMSU President has issued a statement. 

We will have more information on this story as it develops.


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