iUSELESS13 July 2017
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is becoming increasingly frustrated with the exclusion of international postgraduate students from iUSE concession Mykis. Victorian Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis, announced on 4 May that the trials on iUSE would be extended to the end of 2018 for full time international undergraduate and VET students. However, postgraduate students in Victoria are still ineligible to use the pass.
Launched in 2015, iUSE partners with 21 Victorian educational institutions to offer students a 50 per cent discount off the cost of an annual Myki pass, for the zones in which they study. The government covers 25 per cent of the student’s transport expenses, while the participating institution funds an additional 25 per cent.
According to Dalidakis, “The discount is one of the many reasons that around a third of all international students who come to Australia choose Victoria over other states, with no discount available in New South Wales.”
Newly elected President of the GSA, Georgia Daly, disagrees with the exclusion of postgraduate students from the iUSE program. She believes that it fails to recognise the contribution international postgraduate students provide to Victoria, and ignores the financial tensions with which postgraduate students already struggle.
According to Daly, a 2015 report suggested that the growth in Victorian international student enrolment is largely driven by the growth in postgraduate students.
Additionally, nearly 70 per cent of full-time domestic postgraduate coursework students have a mean income of less than $30,000, and 45.6 per cent have incomes below $20,000.
International students are in a similar position, with the average annual income for a full-time international postgraduate coursework student being $18,200.
“Being asked to pay the full fare makes a really significant difference in the bottom lines of these students’ budgets,” says Daly.
International student, Jane Lee, agrees. “The lack of support for postgraduates in this way, only adds to the financial difficulties of students. By not being able to receive concession for public transport, postgraduate courses seem an unnecessary endeavour.”
The GSA has lobbied on this issue since 2008, through the Fares Fair campaign. The student-led campaign involves members from the Council of Australian Postgraduate Association, the GSA, Monash, VU and Swinburne.
Daly asks all undergraduate students who intend on continuing study at postgraduate level to oppose the exclusion.
“Get involved now and help us change this before you have to start paying an extra $20 per week just to get to Uni.”