Inflation, COVID-19 and even stigma push many international students into poverty in Australia – Photo: AFP
Upon receiving a doctoral scholarship from a prestigious institute in Australia, international student Julien Lubeek did not imagine that the day would come when he would become homeless and have to live in the midst of an epidemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic occurred, forcing international students to extend their study period. The purse money is also “flying clean” because of the translation. For the next eight months, he lived a wandering life because he had no money to rent a house or buy food.
International students, despite not receiving any support from the Australian government during the pandemic period, can work up to 40 hours/week. In fact, working so hard isn’t possible for an international student, says Lubeek.
“Despite having a stable job, this amount is not enough to help me pay my rent, living expenses, travel, medical insurance abroad, medicine, food,” said Lubeek.The Guardian.
Lubeek is not alone. Monash University has just released a report that surveyed over 60 international students in Melbourne over the past year.
The survey results show that they are also bearing the rising cost of living, the cost of travel is too high, and they have difficulty meeting prescribed commitments in studies and work. Almost half of them are experiencing food shortages – three times the rate of the entire population of Australia.
The author of the research, Dr. Beatriz Gallo Cordoba said she was shocked to learn about the situation of those interviewed.
In times of need, instead of being helped, they are often surrounded by discrimination, so they are forced to struggle to find a solution in silence and lead to poor school and health performance.
“There will be unavoidable difficulties when you study abroad for the first time, and we want to limit the worst experience. Universities also need to have a responsibility to support, but they cannot shoulder this burden alone,” Córdoba said.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who has the right to speak for the Green Party on education, said “Australia has let international students down”.
The deputy criticized the government for trying to “attract” international students, but then abandoned them in difficult times.
With sky-high rents and a cost of living crisis, research co-author Professor Lucas Walsh says the situation is unlikely to improve in the short term.
“International students are an extremely vulnerable group during the pandemic and its effects will remain,” he said.
Sharing with Tuoi Tre Online, friend Doan Thao Nhia (21 years old, international student studying at Monash University) also fell into a similar situation. With the current standard of living, she can only rent a house in the suburbs, if she wants to go to school or go downtown, it takes 1 or 2 hours by train.
“After the outbreak of the pandemic, rents skyrocketed. From 500-550 AUD (about 7.6 – 8.5 million VND) to 700-800 AUD (about 10.7 – 12 million VND), so you can find a room you like, close to the center and the school,” she shared.