Education is a highly competitive business. The better the education an institution provides, the more students they have and consequently, the more revenue.
With the increasing numbers of international students in Australia to obtain a decent education, there is also an increasing amount of rules and regulations they must follow in order to study here. This further places stress upon social and other aspects of studying abroad and can be a very expensive endeavor for international students.
Being a New Zealander myself in the Australian education system I am also excluded from many of the financial privileges given to Australian students. Despite having lived here since I was 7, being a permanent resident and having a tendency to say ‘mate’ over ‘fush and chups’ I’m unable to apply for things like opal concessions or HECS help loans.
I still live with my parents, but I feel the effects of how expensive everything is in Australia. I don’t know how I would cope living in a foreign country by myself to study while trying to make a living just to avoid being homeless.
Full time study accompanied by full time work is the reality for many international students living in Australia. Higher rates for international university student fees further makes finances difficult.
The SBS documentary “Convenient Education” by Louis Dai, David Elliot-Jones and Lachlan Jones, exemplifies the harsh conditions international students are put under when they come to study here. Not only are many exploited for cheap labor, racism in many areas of Australia often places them in volatile and dangerous situations.
An interview with Neerej Bhardwaj,an Indian student who was violently bashed coming home one night, highlights this. Neerej speaks of how he came to Australia in search of a better life, but instead has had to return to India without finishing his qualifications as he suffers from depression resulting from a fear of being attacked.
“The thing is that, I can’t sleep. I can’t go out side, come back. And totally my life is gone and totally, my personality, everything. Not happy for this life, I’m not feel good.”
This attack was not an isolated incident, and made headlines in India about the safety of their students in Australia. Yet the Australian governments reaction did not involve creating a shift in attitudes of Australian society in order for our international visitors to feel safe and welcome, instead the government worked on image re branding and improving ties in India. After all, they couldn’t lose this $18billion industry over a few racist attacks right?
Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl uncovered that many local Australian students did not want to befriend international students or get to know them. Further that obtaining and maintaining social relationships was difficult despite the international students genuine desire to gain insight into the lives of local Australians. The Australian accent and slang words, has also been attributed to the difficulties of this, proving hard to interpret for international students.
Australian communities need to be educated in ways we can better accommodate international students and understand them through getting to know them. Despite the few racists, they’re not going away anytime soon and their safety should be an issue all communities care about. Having a chat with someone learning English as a second language is a step towards an Australia which appreciates other people and cultures.