University community comes together to tackle COVID-19

The University of Melbourne’s community of donors, alumni and staff has come together during the past three months to support students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide vital funds to some of Australia’s leading researchers.

Ventilation Hoods The COVID-19 Emergency Appeal consists of two immediate needs funds – the COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund and the COVID-19 Research Response Fund. So far, more than 700 donors have generously given to the Appeal.

The University community’s generosity has also directly impacted the COVID-19 pandemic research and trials undertaken by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity – a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Gifts to the Doherty Institute are expediting research into better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of both COVID-19 and future pandemic illnesses.

What your generosity supports

Gifts to the COVID-19 Research Response Fund support projects that can demonstrate a tangible immediate impact in the global fight against COVID-19. The fund is currently looking to support nine projects, spanning the University’s broad research expertise.

One such project is the production of personal ventilation hoods, designed by researchers from Melbourne School of Engineering in conjunction with Western Health clinicians and allied health professionals. The transparent, movable personal ventilation hood sucks air away from COVID-19 patients, while creating an effective droplet containment barrier for health care personnel.

Professor Jason Monty, ventilation hood lead researcher and fluid mechanics expert, said it is known that COVID-19 is carried via droplets expelled by infected patients.

“The hood helps to confine bigger droplets to a known area around the patient while smaller droplets are sucked away through an attached ventilation system and filtered out through a high-efficiency particulate air filter.”

Funds raised through the COVID-19 Research Response Fund are enabling the hoods to be produced locally and to progress to a clinical trial phase.

Helping our students in their time of need

The impact of COVID-19 has meant many students have lost income from employment or family financial support that they counted on, resulting in unprecedented financial strain.

Since reaching out for support, donors have responded by contributing more than $723,000 toward the COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund, in addition to funds provided by the University. These funds have successfully provided more than 4100 students with the ability to cover costs associated with learning from home, loss of income and unanticipated expenses incurred due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

These donations are making a tangible impact on the lives of students. A grant of $1000 helps a student purchase a laptop; $250 means a student can upgrade their internet for home study.

One grateful grant recipient provided the following comment, which is representative of many of his peers’ experiences: “I am so overwhelmed by the support. I cannot begin to describe the stress this has relieved, knowing that I have money to pay my accommodation and bills for the next few months. Please accept my heartfelt thank you.”

Almost 6000 students have applied for some form of financial aid from the COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund. The need is ongoing and any support provided will go directly to students in financial hardship.

Donations to the COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund and the COVID-19 Research Response Fund are part of a collaborative, community-wide effort to tackle this global challenge. The outstanding support of our alumni and donor community is truly making a difference.

For the latest information on research and activities conducted across the University in response to COVID-19, visit

Banner: Penny Stephens / Western Health