Last Thursday the Victorian government announced that from 2015 international students in Victoria will be entitled to a 50% discount on annual Myki passes, which cost $2200 at full price. While worthy of applause, we find it necessary to question the usefulness of this scheme.
In NSW, international students enjoy discounts of between 24 per cent to 35% for a 90-day or yearly MyMulti 2 or 3. The costs of these tickets, after discount, start at $425. To purchase discounted tickets, students need to contact their education provider for a one-time code, which they then use when ordering the tickets. But in Victoria, tickets are restricted to annual passes, while only students with education providers who have opted in are eligible. Education providers must subsidise part of the cost.
Victoria and NSW are still the only two states that do not offer international students the same travel concession as local students. Despite the concession schemes introduced in both states, the benefits of both schemes are extremely limited. The prices are too high – with discounted tickets costing hundreds or even over a thousand dollars, single full price tickets end up more affordable.
NSW Transport reports that only 8056 travel passes were issued between February – September in 2013, out of approximately 160,000 international students in NSW. With most international students choosing to live near campus and leaving the country during holidays, this small take-up is no surprise.
Reports have shown that Australia is becoming a less favourable destination for international students in comparison to competitors like the UK, US and Canada. ABC reports there has been a decline of 18.9% in the number of foreign students coming since peaking in June 2009. Such damage to the nation’s largest service export is due to Australia being known as the most expensive option. Yes, there will always be international students coming in Australia to study but the government should try to be competitive on the global stage.