You cannot go to Australia, work for 20 hours a week, sustain there and send money home
Kathmandu, June 4
Australian Ambassador to Nepal Peter Budd today said working for 20 hours a week was not enough to sustain in Australia for foreign students, including Nepalis, and that they needed to make sure they had sufficient financial backing.
As per Australian visa conditions, most student visas allow international students to work for up to 40 hours every two weeks (or 20 hours a week) while the course is in session, and unrestricted hours during scheduled course breaks.
Ambassador Budd’s caution comes at a time when videos of Nepali students in Australia complaining about overwork, stress and not being able to focus on the study have gone viral on social media. In the videos, the students have complained that their earnings were just not enough to cover their living and study expenses, resulting in mental stress. Australia is one of the most popular study destinations for Nepalis, who account for the third highest number of international students after Indians and Chinese. However, it is also one of the most expensive study destinations.
According to www.studyinaustralia.gov.au, the official government website for international students, the typical annual tuition fees for international students pursuing Vocational Education and Training stand at AUS $4,000 to AUS $22,000.
International students pursuing Undergraduate Bachelor Degree have to pay AUS $15,000 to AUS $33,000 per year, while those enrolled in Postgraduate Masters Degree will have to pay AUS $20,000 to AUS $37,000 annually in tuition fees.
Similarly, the fees for Doctoral Degree stand at $14,000 to $37,000 per annum.
Moreover, living in Australia is not cheap. As per the financial requirements set by Australian Department of Home Affairs for international students, annual living cost stands at AUS 20,290 for a student, an additional AUS $7,100 for partner or spouse, and an additional AUS $3,040 for child.
The minimum pay in Australia stands at around AUS 20 per hour.
Against this backdrop, Ambassador Budd said although the number of Nepalis going to Australia to study was growing exponentially, it was being driven indigenously. He said Nepalis willing to pursue study in Australia needed to make sure they had required English proficiency to succeed and required financial backing so they could focus on study.
“We want Nepalis going to Australia to be successful in their studies and then return and contribute to Nepal,” Budd said at an interaction with a select group of journalists. “You cannot go to Australia, work for 20 hours a week, sustain there and send money home.”
That’s not all. Nepali students are also facing problems due do deregistration of certain education institutions, with the Australia Institute of Business and Technology (AIBT) and AIBT-International being the latest such case. Around 900 Nepalis are enrolled in these institutions and their future now hangs in balance.
According to the embassy, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) has advised AIBT-International of the proposed cancellation of their registration earlier this month for their failure to meet quality requirements. This decision will take effect on June 19. AIBT-International has announced they will contest ASQA’s decision. AIBT-I is entitled to continue operating until a final legal decision is taken regarding the cancellation. In this context, Budd said all education institutions in Australia were subject to ongoing assessment to make sure they met quality requirements. He said the Australian authorities had put in place a provision titled ‘tuition protection scheme’, under which students of deregistered institutions could claim compensation.
To avoid such a situation, the ambassador suggested students should not solely depend on education consultancies, and do some fact-checking online to make sure that the institutions they planned to enrol met all requirements.
A version of this article appears in print on June 05, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.