Busted toilets, bed bugs and crowded apartments: International students’ horrific living conditions

Many of the half a million international students studying in Australia have found their living conditions to be much worse than in their home countries.

Crumbling toilets, bed bugs and overcrowded apartments are just some of what they have to put up with, with one student saying his apartment is “a thousand times worse than Bangladesh”.

The broader rent crisis in Australia has also been exacerbated by restrictions on the hours international students are allowed to work, limiting their scope to find a better place.

When Raviol Hussain, an engineering student, was about to leave Bangladesh for Sydney, he learned through internet searches that it would be difficult to find accommodation.

He had hoped to find at least a place to live near the Macquarie University campus in north Sydney, but ended up in a “barely livable” unit in Lakemba – about an hour away on public transport.

Raviol Hussain from Bangladesh (pictured) had hoped to find a place close to the Macquarie University campus in north Sydney, but ended up in a “barely livable” place 20km away.

His apartment had a broken door, a broken toilet, and a bed with crawling bugs all over it.

His native Bangladesh is well known as a third world country, Mr. Hussain said, “but the place where I am currently residing is a thousand times worse than Bangladesh.

“After two days of long flights, I was hoping to get a good night’s sleep, but I ended up in a bed full of mites,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr. Hussein's apartment had a broken door, a broken toilet and a bed with bugs (pictured) crawling around

Mr. Hussein's apartment had a broken door, a broken toilet and a bed with bugs (pictured) crawling around

Mr. Hussein’s apartment had a broken door, a broken toilet and a bed with bugs (pictured) crawling around

Another international student, Anna, paid $180 a week to share her first flat in Haymarket in Sydney’s CBD with 11 others — four people per room in bunk beds.

They couldn’t open the curtains because building management sometimes flew drones to see how many people lived there, as the building was known to be rented out for more than what was legally allowed.

A survey of 7,000 international students found that a quarter of them shared a bedroom with someone who wasn’t their partner, and 3 percent were ‘hot beds’.

Heated bed is where many students share one bed on the list.

Although the survey was conducted before Covid, the problem is likely to be worse now with students flocking to Australia in the midst of a rent crisis as national vacancy rates have fallen to 1 per cent.

The main factor preventing international students from finding a better place to live is the cost, which does not help in limiting the hours they can legally work.

The federal government has raised the pre-pandemic limit of 40 hours every fortnight to 48 hours, but Indian student Kartika Dilip Kharat said an extra four hours a week wouldn’t make much difference.

The Macquarie University masters student noted that Sydney is an expensive place to live and that she would “prefer to work as much as possible”.

She said there should be no restrictions on the number of hours foreign students are allowed to work because it helps them pay fees, accommodation and expenses.

It’s not just students who want to be able to work longer hours, employers do too, including Ken Rosebery, former managing director of The Cheesecake Shop.

Sydney-based Indian student Kartika Dilip Kharat (pictured) would like to be able to work longer than 48 hours in a fortnight, which is limited to

In a report submitted to the Senate Economics Reference Committee, he wrote, “What is the government doing in the business of trying to set appropriate working hours for a student?

“They don’t do it for the local students,” he said. “It looks like you’re punishing both foreign students and employers for nothing.”

Top 10 countries for international students studying in Australia

China – 156,217 male and female students

India – 100302

Nepal – 57182

Colombia – 22662

Vietnam – 22,521

Thailand – 19,362

Brazil – 19057

Filipino – 17976

Indonesia – 16914

Pakistan – 15875

source: Ministry of Education, January – December 2022

Work restrictions can also cause students working cash jobs to cross the line.

But this often means that they will be paid well below the minimum wage and are unlikely to complain if it affects their visa.

An arrangement between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Department of Home Affairs allows student visa holders to report their lower wages without fear of their visa being revoked, even if they breach their terms.

But fewer than 200 international students have used the amnesty.

A study of 2,472 students by the Immigrant Justice Institute found that 77 percent earned less than the minimum casual wage, with 26 percent earning $12 an hour or less.

“If international students are so afraid to apply because they think it will affect their visas — nothing will work,” said Basina Farbenblum, co-executive director of the institute.

And it is unlikely that anything will change in the near future, as international students are more attractive to Australian universities due to the huge fees they pay.

For example, at the University of Sydney, international students pay about $48,000 a year for a bachelor’s degree in business, but domestic students pay less than a third of that – $15,142.

Fees paid by international students account for 38 per cent of the University of Sydney’s total operating revenue and 77 per cent of its income from all students.

Natasia Zahra, an Indonesian who studied in Sydney, said the fees For international students compared to what local students charge, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

“I feel like studying and living are almost two separate experiences in Australia,” she said.

Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk

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