THE New South Wales state government is trialing an international student travel concession program, but to some students, the efforts are piecemeal. Nicholas Wagstaff reports.
The NSW government is currently trialing a program that allows international students to purchase a 90 or 365 day travel pass at a price discounted up to 35 per cent in the greater Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions.
International student travel discounts have been noticeably absent from NSW state policy until this year, with NSW and Victoria being the last states without some form of travel discount available for overseas students, until now.
The new NSW state government program provides discounts on MyMulti2 and MyMulti3 tickets only. These tickets allow travelers access to multiple transport options in the greater Sydney area.
International students must pay up to $1540 up front and can only purchase them through their university.
The trial program does not, however, provide a discounted price for the MyMulti1 ticket, which provides unlimited transport access to the inner city and surrounding suburbs. This zone contains three out of the five most popular universities in Sydney – the University of Technology Sydney, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.
When asked about the program, Frank Wang, a Chinese student studying at the University of New South Wales in Kensington said the state governments international student travel discount was “useless” to him.
I really only travel from uni to the City. Maybe Bondi Junction, East Garden, Maroubra Junction, that distance doesn’t require MyMulti2. If I buy the MyMulti2 it’s more expensive than what I am paying now. – Frank Wang
“I really only travel from uni to the City. Maybe Bondi Junction, East Garden, Maroubra Junction, that distance doesn’t require MyMulti2. If I buy the MyMulti2 it’s more expensive than what I am paying now,” he said.
“It’s only useful for students living far away from uni. Most international students live near university.”
Even students who attend university within the MyMulti2 area are struggling to see a reason for the current program.
Among them is Cassandra Teo, an international student at Macquarie University in North Ryde.
The Malaysian student said the travel discount wouldn’t apply to her since she lived on campus.
“It’s pretty much a waste of my money,” she said.
When we found out it was just for the MyMulti2 and 3 and that was for the three months or a year, we just dropped it after that and didn’t give it much thought. – Cassandra Teo
“I did not really give it much thought because at first it was exciting. I mean, a few of my friends, we were all talking about it and then when we found out it was just for the MyMulti2 and 3 and that was for the three months or a year, we just dropped it after that and didn’t give it much thought.”
However, with Victoria and NSW universities attracting the vast majority of international students travelling to Australia, would Victoria be in danger of losing out on market share to the other states?
When asked if he thought this program would tip the scales in favour of NSW, Canadian student David Weiler said he “certainly wouldn’t” base his decision on that.
“If say Melbourne said, ‘Look, we’ll give you exactly what Australian students get in terms of your transport discounts.’ That would just be a sign of a more hospitable environment for international students,” the University of Sydney student said.
For Chinese student Frank Wang, a number of factors contributed to his decision to choose New South Wales as his preferred study destination.
“Before I came (to Australia), I compared the price – but I chose the university and the city from different angles. It’s not just about the bus,” he said.
“Like for uni, it’s maybe the status and reputation of my major and for the city it’s about what activities and job opportunities are available.”
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