Financial and Hardship Policies

Financial or Hardship Policies Current Response
Extend RTP Scholarship durations
Confirmation from the Department of Education that amendments will be made to the Commonwealth Scholarships Guidelines (Research) 2017 to allow extension of RTP scholarship to a maximum of 4 years and 6 months for research doctoral degrees and 2 years 6 months for research masters degrees – at the discretion of universities.

The 2020-2021 Federal Budget includes a once off additional 1 billion dollars to universities through the Research Support Program.16 Amendments will be made tot he current regulations to allow universities to use this new money to fund extensions for students affected by COVID-19
Support funding of paid placements through industry partners
Amendment to the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to enable government grants that include cover paid industry placements and supporting training of research students.1,2

Announcement of over $100 million for fee and regulatory relief to public universities.3
Eligibility to Special benefit Scheme Currently no response
Eligibility to COVID-19 stimulus package and/or providing ‘care packages’
University hardship funds also supported through state treasury with further initiatives to be discussed by the Education Council to support international students.3
Please refer to
Study Melbourne – $45 million fund to support international student
Study Adelaide – $13.8 million International Student Support Package.
Study Queensland – Isolation care-packs, pre-prepared meals and other living expense payments are also available to students as part of a $2.2 million package.
ACT Gov – Red Cross will also work with tertiary institutions to provide $150,000 in ACT Government support to international student, more support through a $450,000 ACT Government support package.
Study Perth – to help international students who have an acute need for food, shelter, support and health and wellbeing.
Tasmanian Gov – Payment of $250 per individual or up to $1000 per family. Accommodation support and further relief also available. 

NSW Gov – NSW Government will fund temporary crisis accommodation for stranded international students as part of a $20 million package
Financial Relief (i.e. Freezing rental payments and utility bills)
The National Cabinet announced the state and territory governments will be moving out to put in moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress. Support on rental freezing and other such support will vary by state/territory.4

Release of the National Cabinet’s Statement of Expectations for the energy sector to include flexible payment options and not disconnecting supply/services for those experiencing financial stress. Will be acted on by state and territory governments to work with utility companies.4
COVID-19 study leave
Student unable to adequately continue due to restrictions imposed, HEPs have discretion to either suspend a student’s RTP scholarship (preserving a student’s period of support) or continue the student’s enrolment (consuming some of the student’s period of support).

RTP students are also able to receive additional paid sick leave of up to a total of 60 working days where a student has insufficient sick leave entitlements available subject to universities.
Assistance for those with carer’s responsibilities
Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package Announcement: Morrison government will pay 50 percent of the Child care sector’s fee lowering the overall cost of childcare in Australia for the next three months.5
Domestic Violence leave
Announcements of $1.1 billion , $32.5 million and $154 million to support mental health services, domestic violence support, Australians living with disabilities, medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief for Australians.6,7,8

Immigration Policies:

PoliciesCurrent Response
VISA and CoE conditions for converting to part-time
TEQSA supports universities’ effort to keep students enrolled, and “accept that this may include a reduced study load”.9

Lifting work restriction for International students (20 hours a week) working in the healthcare/aged care industry and supermarkets. Though those hours will return to 20 hours a week for supermarket jobs on May 1st.10
VISA extensions to extend stay in Australia Recommendation for students to apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600) if they are coming to the end of their degree and require additional time in Australia.11
Healthcare cover and support
Healthcare support for international students is currently under the initiative of state and territory governments and will therefore vary for different states/territories. Check the state/territory government’s health service website for more information.12,13
Flexibility to ESOS Act
TEQSA has announced that in semester/trimester 1 of 2020 will allow universities to be flexible with specific sections of the ESOS Act 2000 regarding the proportion of study permitted to be delivered by distance or online learning.9,14


  1. Department of Education, Other Grants Guidelines (Education) Amendment (No.1) 2020(Cth) Retrieved from:
  2. Department of Education, Higher Education Support Act 2003(Cth) Retrieved from:
  3. Transcript with The Hon. Dan Tehan MP and Prof. Brendan Murphy (12/4/20): Minister for Education Dan Tehan and Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy press conference (Cth).Retrieved from:
  4. Media Statement (9/4/20):The Hon. Scott Morrison MP – Update on coronavirus measures(Cth). Retrieved from:
  5. Joint Media Release (2/4/20): The Hon. Scott Morrison MP & The Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package (Cth).Retrieved from:
  6. Joint Media Release (29/3/20): The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Senator The Hon. Marise Payne & The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, $1.1 billion to support more mental health, Medicare and domestic violence services (Cth). Retrieved from:
  7. Joint Media Release (4/4/20): Senator The Hon. Anne Ruston & Senator The Hon. Marise Payne, Urgent support for frontline domestic violence services (Cth). Retrieved from:
  8. Joint Media Release (9/4/20): Senator The Hon. Anne Ruston & The Hon. Stuart Robert MP, Supporting Australians most at risk in the wake of coronavirus(Cth). Retrieved from:
  9. Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Reducing regulatory burden – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Retrieved from: updated: 6th April 2020.
  10. Media Release (4/4/20): The Hon. Alan Tudge MP, Coronavirus and Temporary Visa holders (Cth), Retrieved from:
  11. Department of Home Affairs, COVID-19 and the border: Staying In Australia. Retrieved from: accessed: 14/4/20. 
  12. Study Melbourne, COVID-19 support for international students, Updated: 14th April 2020.
  13. Health Protection NSW, COVID-19 – Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from: updated: 9th April 2020
  14. Department of Education, National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (Cth). Retrieved from:
  15. Joint Media Release (12/4/20): The Hon. Dan Tehan MP & Senator The Hon. Michaelia Cash, Higher Education Relief Package(Cth).Retrieved from:
  16. Department of Education, Research Support Program. (6/10/20) Retrieved from: