18 April 2020 I Only three days ago, the biggest recruiter of international students from Nepal announced that it would dispense hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy grocery cards for young men and women who suddenly found themselves jobless in a land 8,000 kilometres away from home.
By Saturday, hundreds of eager students had already lodged their online “application” to avail of the charity highlighting the growing desperation of some of our vulnerable international students.
Expert Education and Visa Services (EEVS), the success of which can be gauged from the fact that it has grown to boast of 11 offices across Australia since commencing operation 14 years ago, intends to spend $200,000 to support its current clients who are facing “unprecedented” challenges amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
According to its director Hom Poudel, 503 students have already contacted EEVS showing interest in claiming the shopping cards that are strictly for groceries-only.
The “COVID-19 Expert Support Fund” will be administered through Expert Foundation, “a charitable initiative” of the multi-million-dollar education business.
There are two simple conditions that students wishing to apply for the EEVS grocery cards need to meet. First, they must have arrived in Australia on or after 1 October 2019 and secondly, they must still be a current client of the Expert Education and Visa Services.
Any international student meeting these criteria can apply for support by filling a simple online form on the agency’s website.
Many students who do not meet the criteria have also approached EEVS requesting any form of assistance they could render, including help finding employment, an Expert representative said, “We are working to address this.”
Those working in the hospitality industry are understood to be the most affected cohort with some losing their jobs completely while some others “are still working few hours as some restaurants are doing take-away service”. Many students appear to have played it smart by promptly switching to food delivery services like UberEATS and Deliveroo.
The size of Expert Education’s operation becomes apparent given its claim of having recruited some 10,000 international students who are currently studying at various Australian colleges, RTOs and universities. According to Hom Poudel, since its inception his organisation has served over 50,000 students globally.
So, what do the international education “Expert” think about the future of the international education industry in the face of COVID-19?
Badri Aryal, the founder-director of EEVS is worried but certainly not fazed by the current crisis. Despite the widespread “doom and gloom”, Mr Aryal is adamant that Australia’s international education industry would once again take off, although a lot shall depend on how the government picks its policies in the days and months ahead.
“Australian international education sector has a long history and is one of the top destinations for outbound students. This crisis should bring a lot of positive changes in the sector which will make Australian international education sector even better than ever. We are optimistic! However, we are yet to see Australian government’s policy as to how they are going to revamp this industry,” Mr Aryal remarked.
According to EEVS, $150,000 of the total Fund will be used to directly help the affected students while the remaining $50,000 will be dispensed through community organisations. Many have already contacted the Expert Foundation wishing to be partners in their charitable endeavour, it is understood.