– Marco Carvalho

The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) has announced the creation of a Hardship Fund to mitigate the impact that the global dissemination of the new coronavirus is having on some of its students. The aim of the new mechanism is to bring financial relief to international students who have been left without support due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.

The new coronavirus global epidemic outbreak and the contingency measures established by most of the nations affected by the propagation of Covid-19 are having “dramatic effects” on part of the student body of the University of Saint Joseph, where some of the institution’s foreign students barely have money to buy food.

In order to provide relief to the students in need, some of whom are facing a very precarious financial situation, the University announced the creation of a Hardship Fund and it made an appeal to the sense of solidarity of Macau’s civil society: “Many of these students chose Macau to continue their studies, but in many cases the spread of the new coronavirus left them without the family support network they depended upon. The economic paralysis cost these families their jobs or, at least, influenced their ability to generate income and their children suffer the consequences,” Álvaro Barbosa told O Clarim. “Some of these students saw their capacity to pay the tuition fees, accommodation and, in some cases, even the ability to purchase food compromised,” the Vice-Rector of the University of Saint Joseph added.

Before the creation of the new hardship mechanism was announced, some of the teachers of the University took into their own hands the responsibility of helping a handful of students, which have been facing economic hardship.

Álvaro Barbosa expects, nevertheless, that the outlook will worsen and that more students may need the same kind of support, as the economic consequences of the pandemic becomes more evident: “We have had the support of Caritas and some teachers helped, in a personal capacity, a handful of student who were, in fact, facing a dramatic situation. These students are not allowed to work and they do not receive either any help from the Government. There are a few international students that have been granted scholarships, but the great majority of them have no support whatsoever,” the Vice Rector of USJ claims.

The new Hardship Fund is mainly grounded on a fundraising account (account number 9008140904) opened in BNU bank. The new relief mechanism will be directly managed by USJ’s Scholarship and Fellowship Committee, which pledged to regularly publish audited reports on the use of the donated money. The list of beneficiaries, Álvaro Barbosa says, will be kept strictly confidential.