G’day, my fellow adventurists from far across the seas! I hope you had a wonderful and informative O-Week.
A new semester greets us with an increase in tuition fees and a potential $2.3 billion cuts to the Australian tertiary education system. What does this mean? Where will universities go to fill this $2.3 billion gap? The answer is obvious. With education becoming Australia’s second biggest export industry, “international students” suddenly become buzzwords. The university loves us – we are self-funded and we pay, at the very least, $96,000 to finish a 3-year degree; we make up 30 per cent of the undergraduate population; and yet, we are rarely seen in student activism. The government loves us, too – we drive the economy, yet we are not entitled to any of its welfare benefits.
We struggle every day. We are frustrated by the requirement, “Australian Permanent Residents and citizens only,” outlined at the end of most job advertisements. Transport is too expensive, so we are exposed to danger by walking home alone at night. Our employers are paying us far less than the legal minimum wage because we are international students, and we don’t know enough about Australian law to combat this issue. Not all of us are rich, yet we are all here for a better education. And better education should be built upon equal opportunity and fairness.
Thanks to the continuing endeavour of international student advocates, we are now entitled to some concession on long-term MyMulti tickets (visit the University’s website to find more information on the current travel concession benefits available to international students). However, this is not exactly what we ask for in our long, continuing struggle for equality. This is why we must retain these efforts.
Get involved in a range of advocacy campaigns in 2014. Working in collaboration with the National Union of Students (you can find more information in the International Students Handbook), we will lobby for fairer travel concession, campaign for a better understanding of workplace rights, and fight for a more comprehensive scholarship scheme. We need your involvement to make a change.
For those of you who want to know more about the University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council, or simply need a little bit of help settling down in Sydney, don’t forget to visit our website and sign up for our newsletter. Or, you could simply swing by our meetings at 11am every second Tuesday in Merewether Seminar Room 298.
On behalf of the International Students’ Officers, we wish you a smooth transition (back) into your Sydney life. Have fun at Uni, and don’t forget – the SRC is here to help!