The truth behind the struggles of international students


With Australia’s transition from permanent to temporary migration in the past few years, more than 1 million temporary migrants are now living in Australia at any time. The main three temporary visa categories include international students, working holidaymakers and skilled migrants on 457 visas. 

According to an article from SBS, the education sector in Australia is now worth 27 billion dollars a year, with the majority of this owing to international students. 

While the government and education department is thriving from this, international students are paying up to 400 per cent more than Australian students, according to an ABC article. The average cost for a basic science degree for universities in Melbourne, Queensland and Sydney is around $8,500 per annum for Australian students; compared to $35,000 per annum for international students. 

For the international students who do not have the financial support of their families back home, it can be difficult to make a living. Due to student visa restrictions, student visa holders must study full time and are strictly limited to 20 hours of work per week. 

This is especially difficult for temporary migrants residing in Sydney, where the cost of living is high, particularly for rent and everyday expenses. 

25-year old, Aanchal Midha from India, who is currently on her working visa shares the experiences of her friends and cousins, who experienced being underpaid and faced personal discrimination. 

“International students really need jobs and [employers] know that they would do it at any rate,” Aanchal says. 

According to a two-year inquiry by the Federal Migrant Workers’ Taskforce, wage theft is widespread for temporary migrants in Australia, with more than half of all temporary migrant workers are being underpaid. 

19-year old Izadee Nabunat is currently a student visa holder from the Philippines, who came to Australia nine years ago with her parents and two sisters. She is studying accounting at the University of Technology in Sydney. 

Izadee says that out of all the struggles that she faces residing in Australia on a temporary visa, financial issues were the hardest burden. 

“My parents are taxed higher than other low-middle income earners such as those that are permanent residents,” Izadee says. Despite paying increased taxes to the average Australian citizen, she says, they are not provided with the same benefits, protections and assistance as Australian residents. 

“We are unable to apply [for] any benefits regarding health, education and basic living,” she says. “No payout, no Medicare, no Centrelink.”

Nonetheless, when Izadee was asked about the things she enjoys about living in Australia: “Everything” she says, “although it comes with a price.”

The university provides a range of welfare services and assistance for international students, which are free, professional and confidential. 

This includes helping international students find somewhere to live, providing academic and language support, finding work in Australia and financial assistance. 


For more information, visit the Western Sydney University website. 

Jostina Basta

I’m a fifth-year Bachelor of Communications/Bachelor of Laws student, majoring in journalism, and I have…

Jostina Basta

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