On 28 January 2023, the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) announced a new policy regarding degree verification which required all students to return to on-campus learning for semester 1, unless there was specific documented reasons they were unable to return. This change affected thousands of students who had very little time to return to Australia and to find housing to support them while they studied.

SUPRA was concerned about these changes, and how it would affect students unable to return to campus. This concern was reflected in the many students that contacted us for assistance.

SUPRA immediately contacted the University to outline the significance of the situation and to request an active role in shaping the University’s response to the CSCSE changes.

In the following days, with the help of our fellow students, SUPRA representatives were active in social media groups, collecting thousands of student opinions and experiences. We used this information to inform our discussions with the University on how to achieve the best outcome for affected students. We also conducted online Q&A sessions to provide support to students while we worked with the University.

On 1 February, SUPRA had an initial meeting with the University to clarify student needs and concerns, to request specific support for students, and to outline what students needed in their University letter of support they would use in their CSCSE application.

On 3 February, the University updated its webpage, clarifying that international students who arrived this semester could still maintain their remote enrolment option, and promising to issue a letter students could use in their CSCSE applications.

On 13 February, SUPRA representatives spoke at the University of Sydney Education Committee, reiterating the difficulties encountered by students in degree verification with CSCSE and requesting that SUPRA be consulted regarding the contents of the letter from the University.

In the following weeks, SUPRA continued to voice student concerns to the University and to discuss what students needed during this time.

On 29 March, the University sent SUPRA the draft of the letter students would use in their CSCSE applications. We provided prompt feedback and direction as to how to improve the letter, such that students’ needs were centred. The University took on board these suggestions, and the final version of the letter incorporated various changes, in particular, it included reference to students’ difficulties with finding accommodation and housing during the current rental crisis. We believe this has made the letter a stronger supporting document.

We sincerely thank all the students for sharing their needs and experiences, it was central to our ability to advocate for students’ needs.