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Concerns for the Proposed Levy on International Student Income

Thursday, 2 November 2023

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Association of Postgraduate Students Co-President Jeryn Chang

In July, Education Minister Jason Clare announced a proposed levy on university income from international students. The levy is proposed to be used to fund research or protect universities from future economic shocks.

The Association of Postgraduate Students (APS) has concerns about the impact of this proposed levy on international students, as well as the reliance of a vulnerable student cohort to effectively recycle funds within the same sector.

The APS is concerned that the levy will place further financial pressure on international students, with income from the levy being used to fund things that international students are already paying for. If tertiary education remains a top priority for the federal government, then Australia should be investing more into the tertiary education rather than relying on international students to fund the sector.

The APS is pleased that the University of Queensland (UQ) has similarly expressed their opposition to the levy in their submission in response to the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report.

Since its announcement, the proposed levy has also received staunch opposition among many UQ postgraduate students. Cost-of-living crisis at UQ has reached an all-time high. Hundreds of UQ students, most of them international students, line up every day to purchase discounted staples and receive free breakfast and dinner from the University of Queensland Union (UQU) in St Lucia and Gatton. International students are often the most vulnerable when it comes to economic shocks in student fees and everyday living costs.

Richard Liu, a regular volunteer at Kampus Kitchen, the free dinner program provided by the UQU, said “The rent is the biggest challenges where the rental price per week in Brisbane is increasing significantly…I sometimes feel [worried] about [being] homeless if I cannot find a proper place to live.”

Liu reflected on this proposal, “This could be a very sad news that makes Australian University become not a very favourable destination for international students which might also impact on the Australia national strategy to less attract global talent people come to migrate and serve for Australia in the future because the high cost of studying and living.”

Placing extra pressure on universities and their international students will only further harm Australia’s reputation on the international stage. Other revenue streams must be considered to fund the important initiatives proposed in the Accord Interim Report. This should not be done at the cost of international students.


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