An increased number of Swinburne students are accessing financial support as a new Anglicare Australia and National Union of Students (NUS) survey shows that many Australian university students are struggling in regards to housing costs.
The Student Housing Survey found students are finding it hard to make ends meet in regards to their living arrangements, with 49 per cent surveyed saying they struggle with rent costs.
“Students who rely on Youth Allowance or Austudy are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. And many of those who aren’t eligible have to work so many hours that it is harming their studies,” says Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.
“Huge numbers of students have told us that Centrelink has paid them incorrectly or sent them a debt notification — even when they are reporting correctly and meeting all the requirements,” she says.
Swinburne supports students
Chair of Swinburne’s Financial Inclusion Acton Plan (FIAP) group and Vice-President (People and Culture), Rita Cincotta, says Swinburne understands the financial struggles of being a student and has seen positive uptake of students accessing its financial support services in the past 12 months.
“Being a student can be tough financially,” says Ms Cincotta.
“This is why we were the first educational institution in Australian to launch our own Financial Inclusion Action Plan to support students of all different backgrounds and help them continue their studies, “she says.
Since launching the FIAP in November 2016, more than 300 Swinburne students have received equity grants and scholarships as part of the program.
Swinburne services available
The FIAP aims to address financial exclusion by introducing initiatives that support students enduring financial hardship. The program is in partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance, Ernst and Young, Centre for Social Impact New South Wales and the Department of Social Services.
Many support services are available to Swinburne students including:
No-Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)
No-interest, no-charge, no-fee loan facility available to eligible applicants. Maximum loan amounts may vary but credit can start from $300 and include any amount up to $1200 for essential goods and services.
Student loans are available to full-time Swinburne students for expenses related to study.
Grants and scholarships
A variety of grants and scholarships are available to local undergraduate or associate degrees. Grants and scholarships can help with the cost of books, living expenses, public transport, petrol, printing and food.
Swinburne Welcome Scholarships for asylum seeker and refugee students
Swinburne offers a range of support services to refugee and asylum seeker students. This includes Swinburne Welcome Scholarships, established in recognition of the hardships faced by people seeking asylum.
Student food bank
There are food banks located on each Swinburne campus. Students can access non-perishable food items such as pasta, rice, and cans of tuna and soup.