Immediately after the COVID-19 outbreak, presidents of universities and college students provided psychological and financial support for students from Hubei province, ground zero of the novel coronavirus pandemic, giving them assurance and boosting their hope of victory over the coronavirus.
Words of encouragement and comfort
“In this moment of crisis, our hearts, souls and minds are with our Hubei students. Tsinghua will always be a place you can call home and we will never give up on you. Please take care!” said Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University, in one of his online speeches clarifying COVID-19 control measures that the university had been taking as well as work arrangements for the new semester.
Tongji University Party Secretary Fang Shou’en and President Chen Jie expressed their support to their students in Hubei province, “To our 920 students in Hubei Province, especially 155 students from Wuhan, as well as faculty and staff taking the winter vacation there, please remember that your safety and wellbeing is and will always be at the forefront of our minds.”
Hong Zhaochen, a graduate student in nursing and his fellow students from Hubei all received a letter from the president of Central South University, expressing words of encouragement as well. “The university leadership’s support for us at these difficult times is a huge boost to our morale. We will take good care ourselves and fight the virus together,” he said.
Protective equipment and psychological support
Shortly after the outbreak, 277 students and teachers from Hubei studying and working at Guizhou University received 10 face masks each, at a time when the country had a dire shortage of protective supplies, together with a letter from the president encouraging them to stay strong and safe.
Many other universities also responded by sending first medical supplies to their Hubei students to help them weather the crisis. Harbin Institute of Technology and Xiamen University sent 10 face masks to each of their 1,000-plus students from Hubei, while Jiangsu University of Science and Technology sent 3,300 alcohol prep pads in addition to 1,650 face masks.
As well as protective supplies, psychological support was also provided to Hubei students to mitigate their anxiety. Shortly after the outbreak, Beijing Normal University opened a psychological hotline and launched online psychological counseling services. After Wuhan was put under lockdown, Central China Normal University set up a psychological support hotline to help relieve the students’ stress, while Tibet University also provided one-on-one counselling services for its students from Wuhan.
Targeted financial assistance and free mobile data
While taking measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, higher education institutions also paid attention to providing financial aid to students from poor backgrounds, one of the vulnerable groups in times of crisis.
Chongqing University established a targeted funding program for poor students from Hubei and streamlined their application procedures. The University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences launched an ad hoc subsidy program to help 254 Hubei students financially weather the strictest quarantine in human history. Dalian Maritime University transferred support money to its Hubei students’ tuition payment accounts, on top of waiving their tuition fee for the new semester. Beijing University of Technology also provided similar financial aid to its hardest-hit students.
Some HEIs bought mobile data packages for their students to ensure they had unhampered access to online learning during the two-month lockdown.