NSW Government to fund crisis accommodation for international students through coronavirus pandemic

The NSW Government has announced it will fund temporary crisis accommodation for stranded international students.

The $20 million package includes a temporary housing scheme delivered through approved student accommodation or homestay providers.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said increased support would also be provided via the International Legal Service NSW, while free advice would be available from a new 24/7 international student support service through the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline.

The support service will offer free advice and information about other measures, including the moratorium on rental evictions and medical, mental health, legal and emergency support.

"International students are an integral part of our communities and our economy," Mr Lee said.

"Thousands of families around the State depend on the sector — whether through direct employment, homestays or other services."

There are more than 500,000 international students in Australia, many whom have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The Morrison Government had said foreign students should be supporting themselves first and foremost.

International students are not eligible for the Government's JobKeeper or JobSeeker programs for those in financial hardship because of the pandemic.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said international students could access "more than $1.3 billion" in support.

"International students continue to have access to our world-class health system throughout this pandemic," he said.

NSW business groups and union leaders have been lobbying the Government to do more to help international students.

Mr Lee said international students made a huge contribution to NSW and deserved a helping hand.

"Many have lost their part-time jobs, are unable to return to their home countries and do not qualify for Commonwealth Government support programs," he said.

Council of International Students Australia (CISA) president Ahmed Ademoglu welcomed the announcement. 

"We are pleased to see the NSW Government focus on crisis accommodation for vulnerable international students, which is something that we as an association have been calling for," Mr Ademoglu said.

Opposition tertiary education spokesman Clayton Barr welcomed the support but said it's "disgraceful" it took the Government so long to step in.

"We could have done so much better here," he said.

"If your child was at an international university right now and they weren't allowed to fly home because the borders are shut, you would want that country to do their best to look after their kids."