A glimmer of hope for international students?
After months of anticipation, the final verdict of continuing to provide government subsidized course fees to New Zealanders was a relief for majority of Kiwi’s. It was a period of stress and anticipation as the decision would require many to reassess their future tertiary education plans.
Most importantly it shone light on the day to day challenges most international students face that many New Zealanders would find themselves in.
As we already know, international education is Australia’s third largest export industry. It brings in a diverse range of highly talented students to the country which contributes to its economic growth and development. However, despite the significant economic contribution of overseas students, they continually face a huge financial burden to access Australia’s world class education and not to mention the unpredictable changes in Australia immigration, rising tuition fees and lack of public transport concession takes its toll on students. These are just a few of the legislated barriers in place that most Kiwi students would face if they would be treated as a typical overseas student.
The predicament facing international students goes beyond just financials. There are mental health issues stemming from performance pressure, relocation anxiety and more issues that might be experienced at individual level. These are some few commonalities between international and New Zealand students as they both contribute to their host country despite many hindrances.
Fortunately, Kiwi students escaped the trap of paying higher fees as the bill did not pass the senate. However, the question still remains if the government would extend this generousity to overseas students as well in the near future? This decision may have ignited a spark of hope for many but expectations still remain dull for skeptics.
Unlike New Zealanders, most international students travel vast distances from developing nations to get a chance to build a career for themselves. Therefore, some people argue that this policy of Australia is quite discriminatory as it is supporting overseas students from an economically stable and strong country and at the same time neglecting all other overseas students whom face far more barriers to receive a high quality education. On the other hand, there is no denying that due to the close proximity of New Zealand, having a strong public approval of Kiwis in the country and by being an important trade partner that treating Kiwi students as domestic students was inevitable.
However, one does think whether one day there would be no difference in how international students and domestic students are treated similar to Germany today.