Support for struggling students

Emergency grants for immediate crisis, foodbanks for hard-hit students and fostering connections through remote gardening – these are just a few of the ways we’re supporting students throughout COVID-19.

Emergency bursaries help students in crisis

In these challenging and unsettling times, philanthropy is essential to help and bring hope to those who need it most. We continue to raise vital funds to support CQUniCares, to be able to provide financial assistance to those affected.

We estimate that more than 40% of our international students are struggling financially and emotionally. They have lost work and are facing food and housing insecurity. Domestic students are facing tough changes to personal or family work and income and are also juggling child-care and other caring responsibilities.

Given these circumstances, it is no surprise the amount of CQUniCares Emergency Grant Funding so far awarded in 2020 has quadrupled compared to this time in 2019. These donor-funded bursaries provide immediate assistance to students facing a crisis that could derail their studies – and they are imperative during this time.

We want to give a heartfelt and sincere thank you to all the staff, alumni and University partners who made donations to the CQUniCares #GivingTuesdayNow Appeal, which raised $10 000 for students in crisis.

‘Struggling with all the life changes that came with the COVID-19 outbreak, being a student has been difficult. However, we are not alone – CQUni has supported me, checking frequently how I am coping with it, and even provided me with a laptop and wifi modem to facilitate my high-quality studies.’

– CQUniversity student, April 2020

Grow together CQU

International Student Health Promotion Coordinator Liza Costello connected students through the Grow Together initiative.

CQUniversity Melbourne students are creating small scale food forests at their homes, with a project to nurture community despite social distancing.

The Grow Together CQU project invited students to collect free herb seedlings while on campus accessing CQUni’s free twice-weekly food bank, which is helping feed hundreds of students every week.

Seedlings, soil, posts and prizes were provided by CQUni. Over a month, students collected more than 300 free plants, received weekly emails with growing and care advice, and used social media to share their own gardening tips.

Program organiser Liza Costello said the process helped students feel more positive about the challenges of lockdown, remote study, and being away from family and friends.

Foodbanks for struggling students

Alumnus Sean O’Donnell and AVP (Victoria Region) Lara Carton at the CQUni Melbourne food bank.

Students, staff and alumni are volunteering at campus Foodbanks in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Rockhampton. More than five tonnes of food were unloaded at our Melbourne food bank, where more than 400 students signed up for assistance in the first fortnight.

Abishek Panchal has been volunteering at the CQuni Melbourne foodbank since April, helping hundreds of students put food on their tables.

A special thank you to international graduate Abhishek Panchal (BIT 2018) and 2020 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Sean O’Donnell (MBA 1996) for volunteering in Melbourne to help distribute foodbank items to students.

Sean said the global pandemic was taking the worst toll on already-vulnerable people, and that mateship should inspire Australians to support them.

“We’ve got to get better at looking after other people – that’s mateship, and that service to each other is what our whole community needs right now,” he said.

The free initiative is supported by food rescue social enterprise SecondBite, a long-time social innovation partner for CQUniversity Melbourne.

Colleen Dunne (

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