University students want their course fees slashed by 20 per cent to reflect the destructive impact coronavirus is having on their learning.
The National Union of Students on Monday launched its Save our Students campaign, calling for various lifelines during the pandemic.
The union says the federal government has prioritised business in its economic response plan while students, particularly those from overseas, are being left behind.
It wants fees suspended for international students to prevent people from overseas living in dire conditions.
Another demand of the campaign is for access to free e-textbooks throughout 2020 and for the cost of physical books to be included in HECS and university fees.
Australian universities estimate the sector will still shed between $3 billion and $4.6 billion this year.
The Australian Association of University Professors says the pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink how the sector operates.
The group is calling for a Senate inquiry into rebuilding the Australian university system.
Macquarie University finance professor Tom Smith says universities will likely cut costs during the pandemic to stay afloat, adding that the sector relies too heavily on international students for funds.
"This is a great opportunity to reimagine how we provide higher education. We've been doing it the same way for centuries," he said.
Australian Associated Press