New South Wales and Victoria need to come into line with the rest of forward-thinking Australia and step up their support of international students by offering them travel concessions. These states account for 60% of the student load.
In February 2010, Universities Australia released its position paper arguing against the state governments. Dr. Rebecca Harris, Director of Communications and Government Relations, stated the position of the government as “ridiculous”.
She also confirmed that there are no new arguments against travel concessions being brought to light and to maintain their stance has become a case of them “simply peddling rhetoric”.
The same old arguments revolve around the perceived effect that the concessions would have on the governments bottom-line.
The Transport Administration Amendment (Travel Concession) Bill stated that international students are supposed to be self-sufficient in terms of meeting living costs, which includes transport. This creates a catch-22 where they are expected to be able to fully support themselves, but are then limited to work only 20 hours per week.
These policies towards international students trickle down and pollute the attitudes among citizens of these states. They develop the idea of why should we be supporting international students?
The answers to this question are obvious and ones that the government would see for itself if it stopped hiding behind its tired misconceptions.
The economic value of international students to the states exceeds the cost of concessions many times over. As demonstrated by Universities Australia, the subsidy cost of international travel concessions would be $40 million or less for NSW and Victoria in contrast to the tax benefit from international students of $400 million.
The notion that international students do not pay taxes in the same way as domestic students is another ploy by the government to hide their real reason for denying travel concessions: why change a policy in which the government can use international students as their cash cows.
Transport needs to be looked at as a residence issue, not a citizenship issue. International students are temporary residents paying GST and income tax in exactly the same way as domestic students, and the same arguments regarding costs of study should apply to them as well.
Travel concessions would also increase student safety. It would encourage them to take safer ways home from campus decreasing opportunistic attacks such as the recent stabbing of a University of Sydney PhD student as she walked home from an evening class.
The government needs to take notice of these issues and recognize its pure greed in denying international students the same level of affordable transportation. They have the responsibility to reverse the inequality which excludes international students from the broader community. They need to stop propagating a negative image of the situation and take notice of what the rest of Australia is doing.Tags: Travel-Concessions, Universities-Australia