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  • Writer's pictureMo Zaatar

Why It's Tough for Some International Students to Focus on Studying

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

international student in Australia

Australia is a wonderful place to study. We’ve got some of the finest and most open universities in the world, a culturally diverse community to interact with, and when you’re not studying, the best beaches in the world. Most of the best universities here are a short bus ride to a beach for a reason.

In short, it’s always enjoyable to spend time in a country that’s safe, comfortable, and friendly.

Families often sacrifice a lot to send their children to university in Australia. Many sell land or dip deeply into their retirement savings. It’s worth it to provide the kind of education that is available in Australia, but it also means that the students naturally want to send back what money they can while they stay here.

"Most of the best universities here are a short bus ride to a beach for a reason."

But (yes, there’s a “but”)...

Unfortunately, it’s not all smooth sailing right now. The cost of living, which is causing all Australians pain right now, is hitting international students the hardest. According to the most recent stats, the overall Living Cost Index (LPI) has increased by between 6% and 9% over the last year.

That number doesn’t even tell the full story. The basics (i.e. the things that students spend most of their money on) are increasing in price even more quickly than the CPI.

Power prices will increase by between 20% and 25% this year. Food prices have increased by 7%. Insurance, which international students need because public healthcare isn’t available to them, has jumped substantially too.

How Aussies are handling it (and students can’t)

Many Australians are taking up second or even third jobs to manage the increase in the cost of living (we all hope temporarily). Unfortunately, international students have strict limits on the number of hours they can work, so they don’t have this luxury.

There was some temporary relief from these challenges when the Australian government relaxed work rules for international students in certain sectors as part of its COVID-19 pandemic response. This led some students to start working as many as 60 hours per week. For many students, that’s what they needed to do to survive. Sure, juggling that amount of work and studying is certainly a time management challenge, but it got people by.

Now, however, they don’t have that option, as the original restrictions on the number of hours an international student has been reinstated.

When you can’t work officially…

Unfortunately, now many students will be tempted to take on cash jobs that pay under the table and are often for exploitative wages, simply because they have fewer other options open to them.

International students are a resilient lot, and yes, they might be able to survive on instant noodles and live in homeless shelters or a tent in shared accommodation for a long time. We’ve all been there to some extent and it’s a fun memory to look back on later.

It’s less fun when it starts to get in the way of study though, let alone support any family obligations back home. When you’re scraping by, the costs and length of time it takes to transfer the little money you have to spare are truly painful.

“When you’re scraping by, the costs and length of time it takes to transfer the little money you have to spare are truly painful.”

Small blessings that can take the edge off

Bless Payments can’t make the cost of food cheaper. Unfortunately, the cost of accommodation isn’t going to ease in the short term either.

What we can do is make it easier to send money back home, and make sure it gets there quickly. Rather than try and save up a large amount of money to make the high fees from the traditional payment methods manageable, we provide a service that allows you to send small, ‘blessings’ at the time that you have the money.

Because the transfer is fast, the recipient doesn’t need to wait, and that blessing could make all the difference to their own cost of living or celebrations.

Being an international student in Australia is a rewarding experience, but it’s not necessarily easy. At Bless Payments, we’re doing our bit to make it that little bit easier to share your experience anywhere in the world.


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