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Financial limbo puts international students from Iran under huge stress

Luke Henriques-Gomes

Fri Jan 11 2013

International students from Iran remain in financial limbo

IRANIAN students are dropping classes, working unmanageable hours and facing anxiety and depression after financial sanctions were placed on the embattled nation early last year. Luke Henriques-Gomes has more.

International students from Iran are still struggling with sanctions placed on their homeland. Photo: Adam Jones via flickr

A new report has revealed many Iranian students are dealing with anxiety and depression because of financial sanctions placed on Iran.

The report by Council of International Students (CISA) has found 90 per cent of students surveyed are having trouble getting money from Iran to Australia.

In April, Meld revealed many Iranians were facing an uphill battle paying tuition fees because the sanctions left students unable to access money from accounts in Iran. The measures were adopted by many countries including Australia in protest against Iran’s nuclear power program.

In this latest report, CISA said it remains concerned for the welfare of students and noted that responses have become “progressively more desperate” since the last paper, with reports of depression and anxiety among some respondents.

“CISA is concerned about the impact the financial difficulties are having on the mental health of the students and their ability to study,” the international student peak body said in the report.

The survey allowed students to comment on how the financial pressures were affecting them personally. Most indicated increased stress levels, difficulty with their studies and mental health issues.

One student wrote:

Well I can’t focus on my studies since I have to think about my tuition fee all the time. I’m constantly thinking that what if I can’t make it and then I have to go back to Iran and do military services and I have also paid around 16000 AUD only for tuition fee of first semester and OSHC plus many more expenses for nothing. I have to go back as a failure!

Another student said:

Working from 4am to 5.30pm for very little money to survive financially is NOT what I had planned to do during my studies. I have not been able to visit my family in the last 19 months. They also cannot offer the financial support that they used to. It’s a real pressure.

The research reported a total of 185 students (88 per cent) were struggling financially. Of the 244 total respondents, 83 per cent said these financial difficulties were affecting their studies while 70 per cent said their mental health was being impacted.

As much as 40 per cent of students said they had reduced their study load to cope with these pressures.

CISA has called on the Australian Government to intervene to ensure the wellbeing of the Iranian students and requested the formation of a National Contingency Plan and Emergency Fund.

“CISA concludes that the situation facing many Iranian international students studying in Australia has worsened,” the report said.

“These situations are beyond the international students’ control and require a humanitarian approach.”

Iranian students looking for help or advice should head to the Australian Education International website. Free counselling services are available from Lifeline Australia.