RMIT Global Mobility has offered to cover the cost of flights back to Australia for students studying abroad if they cannot change the dates of their existing return flights but want to come home.
The offer was explained in an email sent to students last night.
This comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a four-week state of emergency in the state on Monday as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is calling for all Australians to return home via commercial flights, the ABC reported yesterday.
Students returning home will be legally required to spend two weeks in self-isolation once they reach Australia.
Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $20,000 according to a press release issued by Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
At this stage, it is not mandatory for students to abandon their study abroad plans.
RMIT is allowing students to consider their personal situation.
Damon Rowston is an RMIT student studying in Aarhus, Denmark and said he is “not ready to return to Australia”.
“I’ve decided to stay in Denmark because I do not want to jeopardise a semester's worth of work,” said Damon.
He believes the healthcare system in Denmark is well equipped to deal with the risk posed by COVID-19.
Exchange students from other countries have been forced to leave Denmark and Damon is concerned it could happen to him.
The Swanston Gazette has also spoken to the mother of an RMIT student studying in the UK. They wish to remain anonymous.
She is currently trying to organise flights to get her daughter home. Her husband is waiting for a response from Singapore Airlines about a flight change.
“Singapore Airlines is great, but it’s been hard to contact them,” she said.
She feels the school her daughter is studying at is not taking the necessary precautions to keep her daughter safe.
According to her daughter, “nothing has been done proactively to disinfect shared facilities”.
While she has her own bathroom, she shares a kitchen with seven other students.
Students abroad may also face economic challenges as the value of the Australian dollar begins to fall.
In mid-February, 100 Australian dollars could buy 62 euros. Now, less than a month later, it’s only worth 55 euros.
Source: Google, Morningstar for Currency and Coinbase for Cryptocurrency
This could mean growing financial insecurity for students already pinching pennies to support themselves overseas.
According to the RMIT Global Experience Office, “the health and safety of the RMIT community is of absolute priority”.
Students abroad with questions can contact email@example.com or +61 3 9925 1167.