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International students may face university fee hikes

UNIVERSITIES may be forced to charge international students more after the Australian Government announced the deregulation of the university sector in this year’s Budget. Giulia Poloni and Darren Boon report.

Students take to the streets to protest the budget cuts to the university sector. Photo: Darren Boon

Students take to the streets to protest the budget cuts to the university sector. Photo: Darren Boon

International students may need to pay additional fees after the Australia Government announced its decision to deregulate the university sector on May 13 this year.

The move will see the Commonwealth’s contribution decrease by $1.1billion. The changes will come into effect from 2016, affecting new domestic and international students.

Domestic students will continue to pay lower fees compared to an international student. However, it is believed that if domestic students’ fees are going to increase, international students’ fees will follow.

Colin Long, Victorian Division Secretary from the National Tertiary Education Union, explained that a decline in education standards combined with an increase in school fees will make Australia less attractive to international students.

Mr Long also expressed his concern at an increase in school fees.

“It will be harder for students from non-privileged background to get into the better universities,” he said.

International students are a great resource for Australian universities. A drop in the international applications will “exacerbate university budget problems and accelerate the spiral of decline” for higher education in this country, Mr Long said.

The deregulation aims at giving institutions more operational freedom, though it may also lead to smaller campuses struggling to compete against the bigger and better-known ones.

“Allowing private providers to take students from universities will undermine university budgets and their research capacity,” Mr Long said.

He noted that universities will have to “raise their fees to cover the losses”. In his opinion, this move will likely drive students to choose education providers with cheaper options, and exacerbate the issue.

In addition, Mr Long believes institutions will try to protect their IP (Intellectual Property) from competitors and collaboration in the research sector among different universities will decrease.

Students in Melbourne responded by gathering in front of the State Library on Wednesday May 21 and marching towards Parliament House.

Cassandra, one of the students at the rally, told Meld that the reason she skipped class to be on the street on Wednesday is not for her, as she will not be affected by the changes, but for “our young brothers”.

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  1. hey you also forgot to put in the extra $7 charge per GP visit. That is going to affect international students as well as the locals

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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