A frustrated international student studying in Australia has unleashed a seething rant highlighting some of the problems foreign undergraduates face.
Jaime Wu from Singapore is studying commerce at the University of Melbourne and ‘loves Australia’ but took to TikTok to complain about how she is treated at uni and when applying for jobs and internships.
‘I am so sick and tired of universities treating us like cash cows,’ Ms Wu said in the video which has gone viral.
Jaime Wu from Singapore is studying commerce at the University of Melbourne but is furious over they way international students are ‘ignored’ by the university and employers
Foreign students generally pay more for their courses than Australians despite generating about $29billion in overall revenue for the economy last year, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
‘I always rave about how good Australia is and I truly do believe it is a really good country for international students to study here.’
‘But we are not just our money! We are actual students who want to learn.’
Ms Wu, whose course costs up to $25,000 a semester, said she often feels neglected by the university in favour of local students.
‘I feel like the school doesn’t care if international students graduate or not,’ Ms Wu told Yahoo News.
She also said there was added pressure to pass her classes due to a time limit in the country.
‘Local students can extend their uni degree, but we can’t as our visa would have expired and we will need to pay additional costs to extend it.’
Universities have been cashing in on the international student boom with higher education enrolments from foreigners nearly doubling between 2012 and 2020 to more than 418,000.
Most universities across Australia have also systematically raised their course fees for international students above the rate on inflation for the last seven years, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Annual increases of more than five per cent targeted at foreigners were common before 2020.
Ms Wu is also angry about the process for securing paid internships, saying, in her experience, companies often ignore international student applications.
Ms Wu said she was ‘sick and tired’ of applying for internships which are required to graduate her course only to be ‘ghosted’ because they are looking for local students
‘I get it that you’ve go to prioritise your own citizens first, I really do.’
‘But I would really appreciate if they would say ‘just looking for local students’ on job applications.’
‘I don’t want to spend an hour trying to write one, only for me to submit and never hear back (then) hear from someone else that they’re only hiring local students.’
‘(Employers) need to do better.’
She explained that securing an internship was a requirement for her to be able to graduate but she hasn’t been able to find one despite many applications.
The stress of getting knocked back combined with concerns about graduating and ‘counting every cent’ since arriving in another country amid a cost-of living crises sparked her video.
She added she has repeatedly raised the issue through student feedback surveys but has heard nothing.
International students are allowed to work in Australia during their studies.
They can also apply for a temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) which allows them to freely work in Australia for two years after graduating from a bachelor’s degree or up to four years for masters or doctorates.
But despite this, and despite companies being reluctant to openly say they are looking to hire local students and graduates, experts say there is often a bias.
She also said she has been watching every cent since arriving in Australia amid the cost-of-living crunch, adding to her stress over her uni course and internships
University of South Australia business research dean Nancy Arthur said businesses can view international students as less stable.
‘It can be that employers are confused about visa requirements and what they need to do. There can be misunderstandings and employers might assume that it is a difficult process,’ Professor Arthur told the ABC.
Monash University’s Thanh Pham, who researches international student employability agreed.
‘They make the assumption that international students cannot stay in Australia for long and are unaware of other visa pathways like bridging and residency visas.’
She added international students can also be discriminated against though ‘fit-in’ culture.
‘If they don’t feel like they’ll fit in, they won’t employ them. This makes a lot of international students disappointed and confused because they say, ‘I interviewed well, I answered all the questions and prepared well.”
They both agreed more communication between businesses employing graduates and universities was needed about the benefits of hiring foreign students.
Ms Wu said a register of companies open to hiring international students would be a great help.
This along with promotion of advocacy groups like the Council of International Students Australia was needed to ensure overseas students don’t fall through the cracks.