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Australian campuses offer cash, discounts to China students


AP Canberra
Australian universities are offering Chinese students stranded in their homeland travel money and discounted tuition and the largest campus delayed the start of the academic year, trying to keep their lucrative enrollments amid a viral epidemic.
Australia's ban on travel from mainland China will not be lifted before classes begin at most universities next week, the government said Thursday.
International education is Australia's third-biggest export and China is Australia's largest source of foreign students, with 200,000 attending Australian universities.
Western Sydney University advised students they could get around the flight ban by quarantining themselves in a third country for two weeks. It offered its 300 students in China AU$1,500 ($980) toward the added cost of taking that route to Sydney.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the China travel ban that started on Feb. 1 would be extended for another week until at least March 7.
He said no exception would be made for the thousands of Chinese students, despite their importance to the economy.
"It means they're not in the country, which means they're not participating in the economy, Morrison said.
Prestigious University of Melbourne offered students affected by the new COVID-19 illness support grants of up to AU$7,500 ($4,900) to cover costs including 14-day self-quarantines, flight changes and internet upgrades to allow online tuition.
We understand this has been a difficult time for students who have been affected and we are working hard to ensure they can complete their studies on time, University Provost Mark Considine said in a statement.
University of Adelaide has offered a 20% discount to stranded Chinese students on their first semester tuition fees and a reimbursement of up to AU$2,000 ($1,310) on their travel costs to Australia once restrictions are lifted.
The university has informed the affected students "that an individual study plan has been developed for them, and the flexible approaches that will be available for their studies to begin remotely" next week, its statement said.
Monash University, Australia's largest with 80,000 students, has extended its summer break by two weeks in the hope that students and staff can return from China by then.
The academic year will start on March 16, upsetting the student union which is concerned that there will be less time to study between the end of classes and the start of exams.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson, a spokeswoman for the sector, said it was too early to assess the financial impact the COVID-19 disease outbreak would have on campuses.

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First Published: Feb 27 2020 | 3:14 PM IST

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