No Work Rights for International Students – A joke or reality?
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson believes that international students shouldn’t have any work rights. They should simply come to Australia to study. They definitely should not work in low-paid jobs taking away fantastic employment opportunities for Australians.
What she has seemingly forgotten to mention is that all these Australian-employment-taking-international-students are paying by far more in tuition fees than domestic students in Australia for the very same study discipline. They don’t get any extra resources, they don’t get any extra help by their professors or tutors. No, they must pay thousands of dollars more to get the very same education as their Australian counterparts.
International Student Fees – Fact Check
One quick look at the website of Deakin University for example shows that for a credit point in the undergraduate study discipline of “Law”, domestic students would have to pay $3,464 per credit point. In comparison international student fees equal $4050 per credit point.
The difference between domestic student tuition fees and international student tuition fees is even more prominent when comparing postgraduate studies. For a Graduate Certificate of Accounting and Law you would be paying $3475 as a domestic student. As an international student (same course, same teachers, same education) you will have to pay $4450 per credit point.
These fees can vary between colleges and other universities but there’s always a distinction between domestic student tuition fees and international student tuition fees.
This difference of $975 in tuition fees is equivalent to around a 53-hour working week to an international student which is typically more than an average Australian working week.
This is because this figure is based on an average international student being paid at least the minimum national award rate of currently at $18.29 per hour.
However, it’s no secret that a lot of the time international students can only dream of being paid that “much” money, and while they are encouraged to report when being exploited, can you blame them for not doing so if they fear that reporting those employers may mean they might risk losing their visas?
Almost 25% of litigations filed by the FWO involve an international student visa holder, because employers regularly alter payslips and underpaid hourly rates to disguise the number of hours the student has worked.
So coming back to Hanson’s claim that those students are taking away potential employment from Australian workers, this begs the question; Are they really?
Would an Australian really accept to work for less than the minimum wage for a 60 hour work week, just to be able to stay in Australia and finish their studies? Or is it more likely that they would turn their backs on those employers immediately and find a job that pays them in accordance with the Australian work rights?
Depending on many factors such as country of residence or the course undertaken, international students need to also show “evidence of financial capacity” when they apply for a student visa.
This means if they are granted a visa, they have successfully proven that they are able to “support themselves” in Australia, as they have provided evidence of annual income of at least $60,000 (AUD).
So not only do they fulfil the requirement of supporting themselves when receiving their visa grant, but they are genuinely trying to work hard in Australia because they want to gain the ever so valuable “Australian work experience” that is highly regarded when being recruited for a suitable position in their field of study in Australia and in their home countries.
Joke or Reality?
If this proposal was to actually be implemented, then not only would the $27 billion international education industry suffer but so would the tourism industry and the hospitality industry.
The Australian tourism industry relies on parents visiting their children in Australia and leaving big amounts of money here. The hospitality industry also relies heavily on international students, as they are often working in the hospitality industry because of the 20-hours a week work restriction – there’s not too many employers in other industries that are willing to hire someone who has those kind of work restrictions attached.
At this moment in time, we can only hope that Hanson’s proposal remains nothing more than that – yet another interesting proposal to “improve” the Australian immigration system. There are most certainly bigger issues to be discussed than taking away the already minimal working rights of those who are significantly contributing to the Australian economy.