By Tanaya Das
Increasing fees, spiraling costs of living, rental increases and lack of adequate student accommodation defines student living in Australian cities. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne who host the maximum number of international students are
|Many international students study while under financial stress|
expensive cities with increasingly higher costs of living. For years international student advocates as well as various student associations have been lamenting the lack of adequate information and support as these leave foreign students open to exploitation.
In March of 2013 (Volume 237) we reported on the overcrowded living conditions many students are forced to endure due to lack of affordable student housing. It seems surprising that so many students would be ill-prepared with adequate resources to maintain a decent standard of living in Australia.
Ayub* a Pakistani student studying in Sydney says "When I came to Australia I was told by my education agents that $1000 was enough to live well in Sydney, $1000 a month for a single person is a lot of money back home so it didn't seem surprising. I checked the Department of Immigration website and was told I needed $1550 a month for living costs, I found similar information on the University website in fact the university website claimed one could live well within $1200 a month. The University representatives at Education fairs also said it was easy to find cheap accommodation close to Uni and $1500 was more than sufficient a month. I assumed the government and the university must factor in the effects of inflation etc to reflect a realistic amount which would ensure I would be comfortable. The reality was a rude shock."
UTS website states "An international student requires a minimum of A$14,786 to A$25,680 for living expenses for each academic year." Currently the living costs requirements for a student visa applicant on the DIBP web site is as follows:
|Applicant||AUD18610 per year|
|Partner||AUD6515 per year|
|First child||AUD3720 per year|
|Each other child||AUD2790 per year|
$18610 means $1550 per month to pay for accommodation, food, transportation, utilities, groceries and miscellaneous. To those living in Sydney these costs seem too low for decent survival which Ayub found hard to deal with.
He says "University accommodation costs are outrageous at a minimum of $250 a week plus internet, electricity and a host of other costs like a non-refundable acceptance fee, change of room fee, unauthorized overnight guest fee etc. Single rooms in and around the university are hard to come by plus cost at least $300 a week and since my university is close to the city I am stuck between spending increasing amounts on rent or paying exorbitant weekly transportation costs. International students don't even get travel discounts on weekly tickets! So I pay a minimum of $1000 on rent and then have $550 left a month for all my other expenses, its like having to fast all year round because I certainly can't afford food like this."