COVID-19: Country Education Foundation support helps students

One would think being a regional University student is be hard enough, but when a global pandemic is thrown into the mix pressure and uncertainty increases by the tenfold.

But two students from western NSW; Sami Oehm and Brodie Cotter, say the support they have received in their studies from a not-for-profit organisation has been paramount to keeping them on track in the current health crisis.

Ms Oehm is in her third and final year of University studying a Bachelor of Forensic Science (Crime Scene Examination) at the Canberra Institute of Technology Bruce.

Originally from Young, Ms Oehm moved to Canberra to commence her studies but in March when the University was forced to shutdown due to COVID-19, she moved back home to finish her education online.

While she has still been able to work through her studies and final research project, Ms Oehm said it is hard not being at school full-time.

"We don't know when Uni will open back up again," she said.

If everything goes back to some normality, Ms Oehm may be back on campus by July for semester two.

Mr Cotter is in hist first year at Charles Sturt University studying a Bachelor of Nursing. He is currently living in Orange and undertaking his course via online, while working casually as a disability support worker.

"Undertaking the course online has allowed me to work around my work schedule and my study schedule... it's been really beneficial," he said.

Mr Cotter previously worked in the hospitality industry but his passion has always been to help others.

"I thought it was a good time to retrain and it's something I'm really passionate about as well," he said about his move into nursing.

Both Ms Oehm and Mr Cotter are scholarship recipients of the Country Education Foundation and agreed that the support received through it has been so helpful.

"Coming from a small country town, it's great to have CEF," Ms Oehm said.

Mr Cotter agreed, saying CEF are such a wonderful Foundation who are constantly checking in to see how he is going.

"The amount of support they lend to recipients is just incredible," he said.

"That little bit of support really helps in the long run."

CEF CEO Juliet Peterson said rural and regional students already feel a sense of isolation in general, given their detachment to cities and the health crisis would not be helping in any way.

"For the young students we serve, the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing like they've most probably ever seen before in their lifetimes," she said.

"We want them to remain confident in their studies and focus on the what's most important besides staying healthy: their education."