WITH Victoria being the only state to withhold public transport concessions to international students, the Meld team hit the streets to test the reactions of students both local and international, and come up with with some surprising findings.
International students in Victoria feel they’ve drawn the short end of the stick, as the state continues to charge them full fare for public transport.
Victoria and New South Wales were the last states in Australia to not offer some form of travel concessions for international students, until early this year, when the NSW state government agreed to trial a program providing international students with “travel discounts”.
But while international students in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory enjoy full rights to concessions on public transport like their domestic counterparts, the NSW government’s program has come under criticism for being piecemeal and unhelpful.
Currently in NSW, discounts only apply to travel outside the city on MyMulti2 and MyMulti3 tickets. Tickets can also only be purchased through a student’s tertiary institution during enrolment.
International students Meld spoke to in Victoria said they just wanted to be treated fairly as students, regardless of whether they were local or international.
What came as the biggest surprise, was that many local students Meld interviewed were unaware international students were being charged full fare for public transport.
Chester Galam, a student from RMIT, said he was shocked that international students were being forced to fork out so much for transport.
“I thought (international students) are paying student prices like me,” Mr Galam said.
“I reckon they should, it’s only fair,” he said.
When Meld approached Victoria’s transport minister’s office for comment on the issue, it was re-directed to Public Transport Victoria instead.
Spokeswoman for Public Transport Victoria, Donna Watson, said concessions were available to only particular groups of international students.
For students to be eligible, they had to be part of an approved exchange program, be on the Australian Development Scholarships or have been granted refugee status, Ms Watson said.
Ms Watson said Victoria offered some of the best public transport value options in Australia and that Public Transport Victoria had plans to increase its efficiency and convenience.
“Public Transport Victoria is keen to encourage students to use public transport as an affordable way to travel,” Ms Watson said.
“Bus services have been boosted to several university campuses, and we have undertaken initial planning work for a rail line to Rowville, which would include a train station at Monash University,” she said.