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Cost of Living Welfare Issues for International Students in Australia

From International Students’ Club.  ‘Soup kitchens feeding international students in Australia. Seriously. There are lots of stories going around about rich international students who live it up when they are studying – flashy cars, luxury property, blah, blah, blah.

Then there is how the other half live.  Many international students have very little money when they are studying, and struggle to make ends meet each day.

Some international students in Australia are finding things so hard that they have had to seek help.

The Salvation Army in Melbourne has reported an increase in international students showing up at their free soup-kitchens to take up the offer of a free meal for those in need.  Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army says that he recognises about 50 familiar faces showing up for dinner at their drop-in centre most weeknights. Another 20 or so show for breakfast.

“They have real difficulty making ends meet, many are exploited in the workforce and are getting paid $7 an hour, gambling is also an issue for some international students.” he said.

Most of the students come from South American and Asian countries and are living in poor accommodation while studying at private colleges.

A Colombian student who studies English at a private college and works as a casual cleaner said that he ate at the drop-in centre simply to pay the rent. “The [education] agencies said everything here is going to be ok. But here it is different,” he said.

The Army opened an international student centre, The Couch, six years ago and has received a steady stream of students since then. The centre offer meals and connects international students to mental health, legal services and housing and employment services.

Thomson Ch’ng from the Council on International Students Australia said that Australia was the most expensive place to study in the world and sometimes the students weren’t getting the full picture of employment and economical numbers before embarking on their study journey.

“It’s important for students to consult widely before coming to Australia to study. The information being presented to international students needs to be accurate so they are prepared with the cost of studying here,” he said’.


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