A frustrated international student studying in Australia has unleashed a furious diatribe highlighting some of the issues facing overseas students.
Jaime Wu from Singapore studies commerce at the University of Melbourne and “loves Australia” but took to TikTok to complain about how she is being treated at university and when applying for jobs and internships.
“I’m so tired of universities treating us like cash cows,” Ms. Wu said in the video that has gone viral.
Jaime Wu from Singapore studies commerce at Melbourne University but is furious at how international students are being ‘ignored’ by the university and employers
Foreign students generally pay more for their courses than Australians, despite generating about $29 billion in total revenue for the economy last year, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
‘I’m always excited about how good Australia is and I really believe it’s a really good country for international students to study here.’
‘But we are not just our money! We are real students who want to learn.’
Ms. Wu, whose course costs up to $25,000 per semester, said she often feels neglected by the university in favor of local students.
“I feel like the school doesn’t care if international students graduate or not,” Ms. Wu said 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 cannot, because our visa would have expired and we would have to pay extra fees to extend it.”
Universities are benefiting from the international student boom: higher education enrollments of foreigners have almost doubled between 2012 and 2020 to more than 418,000.
Most universities across Australia have also systematically increased their course fees for international students over the past seven years above the rate of inflation, according to the Australian financial statement.
Annual increases of more than five percent targeting foreigners were common before 2020.
Ms Wu is also angry about the process of obtaining paid internships, saying in her experience that companies often ignore international student applications.
Ms Wu said she was “sick and tired” of applying for internships needed to complete her education, only to be “ghosted” as they look for local students
“I get that you’re going to give priority to your own citizens first, I really do.”
‘But I would really appreciate it if they would say ‘I’m only looking for local students’ when applying for a job.’
“I don’t want to spend an hour trying to write one just for me to submit and never hear from anyone else that they only hire local students.”
“(Employers) need to do better.”
She explained that finding an internship was a requirement for her to graduate, but despite many applications, she was unable to find one.
The stress of being beaten back coupled with worries about graduating and “counting every penny” since arriving in another country amidst a cost of living crisis led to her video.
She added that she has repeatedly raised the issue through student feedback surveys but has not heard back.
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 work freely in Australia for two years after completing 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 for local students and graduates, experts say there is often a bias.
She also said she has been watching every penny since she arrived in Australia amid the cost of living, which added to her stress over her university course and internships.
Business research dean Nancy Arthur of the University of South Australia said companies may view international students as less stable.
“Employers may be confused about visa requirements and what to do. Misunderstandings can arise and employers assume it’s a difficult process,” says Professor Arthur ABC.
Thanh Pham of Monash University, who researches the employability of international students, agreed.
“They assume that international students cannot stay in Australia for long and are unaware of other visa pathways such as bridging and residence visas.”
She added that international students can also be discriminated against by their “fit-in” culture.
“If they feel like they don’t fit in, they don’t hire them. This leaves many international students disappointed and confused as they say: ‘I applied well, I answered all the questions and prepared well.”
They both agreed that more communication was needed between companies employing graduates and universities about the benefits of hiring foreign students.
This, along with the promotion of interest groups such as the Council of International Students Australia, was necessary to ensure that overseas students do not fall through the cracks.