We find ourselves in truly extraordinary times.
The level of social and economic uncertainty is disrupting our expectations of what was ‘normal’ to an almost unprecedented degree.
However, the response of staff in rising to meet the challenge has been magnificent. I have received many messages from students, praising the efforts of our colleagues who have gone above and beyond all expectations in supporting our students and their learning.
For these extraordinary efforts, I thank you all most sincerely. I am certain you’d agree that if our own kids were studying anywhere in the world during this crisis, then we’d want them to be at a university like ours, one where the staff are as deeply invested as we are in the future success of our students.
The scale of the challenge remains daunting, and I must tell you all that we have many challenges ahead. As an institution, we entered 2020 in the strongest position that we have ever been, but we are not immune to the economic impacts of the pandemic. Across the University we are reducing expenditure and making the savings we need to ensure that we emerge from this crisis in the best possible position for the future.
However, right here and right now, the most important part of our future, our students, are enduring serious hardship. Many have lost the employment that provided for their living expenses. Others have families who have lost their capacity to support them through their studies. Our international students have families back home, in countries that are now being ravaged by the pandemic, and who are no longer able to provide the support that was intended. These students are now isolated, thousands of kilometres from family and friends, and some have no money for food or essentials and no access to any Government safety net.
Flinders University is a champion of social justice. If this means anything, it means that those with the ability to succeed through education should be given the opportunity to do so. We have lived this ideology for more than fifty years and there has never been a better time to prove that we mean it.
Yesterday, I announced a student support package designed to support those students suffering the greatest hardship and most at risk of being unable to continue their studies.
The package includes immediate hardship relief but crucially includes a new Matthew Flinders Scholarship designed to enable students to navigate these difficult times and complete their studies with us.
The University has identified the urgent need for $12.5m in support for our students but, in these stringent times, we have the capacity to fund only $8.5m of this need. I have prioritised this funding and it will be released immediately. However, we need to raise a further $4m if we are to ensure that as many students as possible can continue their studies.
I am therefore writing to you now to ask if you would consider supporting this fund with whatever capacity you might have. I know that this is a difficult time for everyone, and I know that some of you will be under some financial stress yourselves that might prevent you from contributing at this time. I respect your individual circumstances and ask that you please only give something if you can. Every cent that you give will go to a student facing financial hardship. Whatever we do for our students will be repaid through their personal success and the reputation that we earn as they tell the world how much we cared when they needed us most.
I have personally made a contribution to the Matthew Flinders Scholarship Fund and I am delighted to say that my executive team have, each individually, volunteered to contribute generously. Together, the Senior Executive have contributed in excess of $300,000 towards this fund, all of which will go to support students in need.
If you are willing, and have the capacity to do so, then please join us in supporting our students.
The need is urgent. The cause is just. The time is now.
Please help if you can, here.
President & Vice-Chancellor
All donations are tax-deductable and 100% of your donation will support Flinders University students through the Matthew Flinders Scholarship Fund.