On February 29 the Minister for Tourism and International Education published a Media release, announcing that about half a million international students studied in Australia in 2015 – a record number that is predicted to grow to one million by 2025. While the media release praised the importance of international education on Australia’s economy ($20 billion were generated by the sector in 2015 alone), it failed to mention the declining quality of living and public services offered to international students in this country.
New South Wales especially has been rather negligent towards international students’ rights, being the only state that does not offer travel concession to both under- and postgraduate international students. This, alongside the abolition of the MyMulti ticket in February this year and the looming reforms of the Opal Card pricing system further burden international students with high public transport costs.
We are currently addressing this issue through the #FairFare Campaign, which was launched on Monday the 22nd of February and has gathered more than 1500 signatures in total in a very short period of time. The Campaign was launched in cooperation with SUPRA, NUS, as well as the SRCs of UTS and UNSW. We are happy and proud to have succeeded in creating a very active network of international students representatives from all over Sydney and the state, as this will facilitate future campaigns and hopefully is the beginning of giving international students in Australia a voice that will be heard on decision-making levels.
Another initiative we have been working on in this regard is the implementation of a consultative body to the USU formed by international students – we will see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks.
Moreover, the International Students Collective is finally active again, and has had a very successful first meeting this week. We encourage every international student interested in creating change for themselves and their community to join.
Lastly, considering the recent outbursts of islamophobia on campus, we would like to reach out to all international students of Islamic faith – if you have experienced or observed islamophobia in Australia, or generally feel intimidated by the current atmosphere, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, the Muslim Societies on campus, or CAPS.