University of Melbourne (Australia)


“Student aid capped as demand soars,” “International students facing long queues at foodbanks,” “Sydney doctor reports cases of scurvy among students.” A brief survey of Australian newspapers points to an alarming rise of food insecurity among university students in Australia, especially international students. The large number of casual job losses due to Covid-19 has meant that many students cannot count on their regular income. In the case of international students, who have no right to access employment-related government support in Australia, the situation has become especially precarious as they struggle to cover university fees and food expenses. This project examines the immediate and long-term problem of food insecurity among international university students in the Australian State of Victoria in order to better understand the nature of this issue and devise possible solutions. The project involves a co-investigation research strategy. We will engage students with lived experience of food insecurity as co-investigators to co-develop an interview protocol that they would use to interview student-participants on (1) food insecurity experiences, drivers, and consequences and (2) their views about how the issue of food insecurity on campus might be addressed. The findings of the research will be used by the investigators and student co-investigators to develop an action plan to help guarantee local and international students’ food security. The project speaks directly to the SSRC Rapid Response Grant (RRG) goals, especially the determination to “understand the pandemic as a social phenomenon” and “inform responses based on knowledge of human interactions and institutions.”

Principal Investigators

Craig Jeffrey

Director of the Australia India Institute and Professor of Geography, Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne

Professor Craig Jeffrey is director of the Australia India Institute and a professor of geography at the University of Melbourne. He works on contemporary India and youth. Building on long-term social research in north India, he has highlighted the positive contributions of marginalized youth to Indian society, working in Hindi and Urdu, which he speaks fluently. He has written eight books, including the Timepass: Youth, Class and the Politics of Waiting in India (Stanford University Press, 2010) and India: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017). Professor Jeffrey has advised over thirty PhD researchers in Seattle, Oxford, and Melbourne and has recently developed a New Generation Network of 15 postdoctoral scholars conducting applied research on contemporary India across Australia. Jeffrey’s work has influenced public policy in the UK, India and Australia.

Jane Dyson

Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne

Jane Dyson teaches on issues related to global inequalities and young people in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. She conducts long-term ethnographic research in the Indian Himalayas examining gender, work, youth politics, and social transformation from the perspective of social geography, cultural anthropology, and development studies. Dyson's research is presented in her book, Working Childhoods (Cambridge University Press, 2014), journal articles, and in her award-winning films, Spirit and Lifelines. In Australia, she examines inequalities among young people, particularly in the context of food insecurity on university campuses.

Gyorgy Scrinis

Associate Professor, University of Melbourne

Gyorgy Scrinis is associate professor of food politics and policy in the School of Agriculture and Food at the University of Melbourne. His research has examined the politics, policy and philosophy of food and nutrition, with a focus on nutrition science, dietary advice, functional foods, food labelling, animal welfare regulations, the role of transnational corporations, alternative proteins, and new technologies of production. His book Nutritionism The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice (Columbia University Press, 2013) develops a critique of nutritional reductionism in nutrition science, dietary advice, and food engineering and marketing practices.