Surviving in Australia: International Students Struggle with Rising Costs, Limited Accommodation

student’s empty wallet

International students in Australia are among the people affected the most by the high cost of living and lack of accommodation. A wave of recent media reports claim that many international students are at risk of poverty, health problems, and homelessness.

According to data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), food and non-alcoholic beverages are up eight percent, travel and accommodation costs increased by 25 percent, electricity by 15.5 percent, and medical services have risen by 6.7 percent, reports.

Zoe Jiang from China told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she had to pay $300 per week to sleep in a pitched tent in the living room of a student who lives in shared housing. Based on research, Australia is experiencing social housing deficit estimated at 524,000 properties. The figure is expected to reach 671,000 in the next ten years.

Studies have found that international students face more challenges in the rental market as they have not rented in Australia previously. More difficulties arise from factors like the language barrier, being unfamiliar with the local area, and a lack of connections.

Erudera has previously reported on international students’ challenges with high rent and limited accommodation, particularly in Sydney, one of the cities with the highest number of overseas students.

Last year, Monash University conducted a survey involving more than 60 international students in Melbourne. The survey results, which Guardian Australia obtained, showed that these students were struggling with the high cost of living, transportation costs, and balancing work and academic responsibilities.

According to the report, nearly half of the survey participants experienced food insecurity, three times higher than the wider population.

Another poll by the Australian Council of Trade Unions involving 3,000 Australians found that more than 50 percent of people had to cut back on their essential spending or rely on their savings to get by. Additionally, one in four people had to skip meals or look for another job besides their normal employment.

The total number of international students pursuing Australian courses was 546,678 for the January-February 2023 period, which is 26 percent higher compared to the same timeframe a year earlier.

Last year, more than 600,000 international students were studying in Australia, of whom over 350,000 were pursuing higher education degrees. Over the years, the number of international students in Australia was:

  • In 2017 - 622,935 international students
  • In 2018 - 692,520 international students
  • In 2019 - 756,610 international students
  • In 2020 - 687,082 international students
  • In 2021 - 570,626 international students

>> COVID-19 Recovery: Australian Universities Continue to Attract More Int'l Students

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