01 May 2020

The UniSA Global Network’s generous spirit during COVID-19

University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute
Thousands of University of South Australia students have been hit hard by the impact of COVID-19. So, the UniSA community has come together to launch the $10 million Student Hardship Fund to support our most vulnerable students through these difficult times.

Our most vulnerable students have been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic in ways we could have never anticipated. Therefore, while making every effort to provide flexible education option for students, the University of South Australia also launched a $10 million Student Hardship Fund.

With more than one-third of UniSA students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many were struggling to make ends meet – balancing work and study – before the health crisis and now find themselves in dire circumstances.

To support these vulnerable students and their studies, staying on track to begin promising careers, the University asked its global network to match the $10 million fund with their own donations.

The subsequent tremendous response from the UniSA community in every corner of the globe has been a hopeful and encouraging light in a time of such fear and uncertainty.

So much of our daily lives has changed in the wake of the COVID-19 global crisis. As we navigate these unprecedented times though, one thing has remained steadfast, the University of South Australia community’s ability to come together in the wake of hardship.

Student in City West campus library

This spirit that runs through the very DNA of the University – to extend a helping hand to those in need and provide opportunities to those in more vulnerable circumstances – has only became more obvious throughout these past months of distress and disruption.

Generous gifts from alums as far flung as Kenya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and China have been met with overwhelming gratitude from these students drastically disadvantaged by the crisis.

As soon as the first donations came through, a specialised taskforce was established to carefully rake through each individual student application. These panels, made up of dedicated UniSA staff, are now thoughtfully distributing the money as we speak.

They’ve heard devastating stories of students whose families have been impacted by the bushfires in Kangaroo Island earlier in the year that have had to return home as they can no longer afford to live in the city; single parents with dependent children have lost work and with childcares also closing down, they are struggling to continue their studies; students from regional Aboriginal communities have also had to return to their homes which are often not conducive to higher education study; international students, some of whom have tragically lost family members recently, have not been able to travel home and have now also lost their jobs are without support.

These are just some of the experiences UniSA students have shared in the thousands of applications that have been submitted for assistance through the Student Hardship Fund and have touched each staff member on the fund’s panel that has come across them.

Vice Chancellor & President, Professor David Lloyd, and Chancellor, Pauline Carr, with the UniSA Alumni Hong Kong Chapter Committee in happier times at last year’s annual networking dinner.
Vice Chancellor & President, Professor David Lloyd, and Chancellor, Pauline Carr, smile with the UniSA Alumni Hong Kong Chapter Committee in happier times at last year’s annual networking dinner.

In establishing the fund, UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd recognised early that some of the University’s 35,000 students will struggle to keep afloat as the wide social changes that stem from COVID-19 control measures disrupt employment, health and wellbeing, accommodation and modes of study.

Prof Lloyd says when the COVID-19 crisis recedes, it will be vitally important to have had continuity wherever possible, including in keeping new generations of professionals on track with their education so that they can help rebuild services, industry and community.

“This fund will help to do just that – keep students learning and up and coming researchers engaged in their important work,” he says.

“UniSA, its staff, students, alumni and friends are part of an extraordinary global community of which I am exceptionally proud.”

“We have a shared instinct towards building and strengthening our community and that continues to define us in these testing times.”

“We are already receiving donations and we are grateful for this enthusiastic support for our students. Large or small, every donation will make a difference.”

To say these recent weeks have presented unprecedented challenges for all of us would be an understatement. However, the UniSA global network’s response to these hardship and commitment to the community has been a heart-warming reminder of the power of community.

UniSA looks after more than 35,000 students – one-third of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds – so if you can do something, however how small, you can make a donation to augment the hardship fund by clicking here.

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