Income security of international students in Australia
Forbes-Mewett, Helen, Chung, Mona, Marginson, Simon, Nyland, Chris, Sawir, Erlenawati and Ramia, Gaby 2006, Income security of international students in Australia, in Proceedings of the 17th ISANA International Education Conference, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, pp. 1-14.
Growth in the number of international students studying in English language countries has slowed in recent years and this development has generated extended debate amongst university managers and policy makers. In these discussions much attention has focussed on whether the slow down is to be explained by currency realignments, visa requirements, the quality of education, or the increasing competitiveness of the international education market. But what has attracted little attention is the fact that when parents and students choose in which country they will purchase a foreign education their choice is commonly influenced by the level of security that is perceived to characterise the range of options. What security means can take many forms and in this paper we focus on income security. Drawing on interview data from 9 Australian universities, we clarify the sources of international student income, the extent to which these students experience income security/insecurity, how they cope with income difficulties and/or ensure finances do not become a serious problem, and whether the nature of the information provided by governments and universities helps explain the extent of income insecurity manifest amongst international students in Australia. We argue that a significant proportion of international students studying in Australia do experience income insecurity and suggest that for both moral and economic reasons the government and the university sector should pay increased attention to this aspect of student need.
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