Hotline to support virus-affected students

ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop says coronavirus could wipe up to 10 per cent from its total revenue.
ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop says coronavirus could wipe up to 10 per cent from its total revenue.

A hotline has been set up to help international students deal with concerns relating to the coronavirus, as universities prepare for its economic fallout.

The bilingual phone and email service has been activated as part of an effort to support affected students, with classes due to resume in the coming weeks.

Education Minister Dan Tehan said those affected could also access existing health and medical services, including Lifeline.

"We have established call centres that students can ring if they have any questions about their health or education," he said.

Mr Tehan said he has been in regular contact with Universities Australia and vice-chancellors to coordinate a response to the outbreak.

"We are dealing with the immediate issues of supporting international students impacted by the changed travel arrangements and exploring solutions to lessen the impact on their education," he said.

The Australian National University in Canberra has about 5000 Chinese students enrolled for this year, but Chancellor Julie Bishop said 1000 were in Australia when the travel ban was put in place.

"So there are about 4000 students that we will be supporting to continue to deliver courses to them while they're overseas, but hopefully they'll be there in time to start either the first or second semester," the former foreign minister told ABC Radio on Friday.

"We certainly don't want to penalise them for matters that are outside their control."

Ms Bishop said the virus could impact up to 10 per cent of total revenue in the worst-case scenario.

"That would depend very much on whether we can continue to deliver the courses that the students have enrolled in," she said.

The university has the capacity to quarantine students on campus but it has not yet had to do so.

It is investigating a number of options for affected students, including online courses, summer and winter intensive courses and deferrals without penalty.

Ms Bishop denied the university was too reliant on the Chinese market, saying it worked to attract students from all over the world.

There are roughly 164,000 Chinese students who attend university in Australia, pumping billions of dollars into the national economy.

Australian Associated Press