The Frustration of International Education

Many students dream of an education in a foreign country. Learning a new language, exploring a new territory and the experience of immersing in a new culture are all appealing factors. However too often the negative consequences of studying abroad are unnoticed.

In Australia, there has been a significant increase in international students attending universities. Australia is ranked as the 3rd most popular destination in the world for international students. According to the Australian Government Department of Education (2015), in 2014, 249,990 international students attended university in Australia. The main reasons for international students choosing to study in Australia include; the diverse range of courses offered by universities, the high ranking of Australian universities as opposed to other countries and Australia having 5 out of 30 of the best student cities in the world (Future Unlimited, 2015). However, studying in Australia also has negative aspects for international students.

Image source: Australian Government Department of Education

Image source: Australian Government Department of Education

Marginson (2012) writes, “International education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be”. Research shows that international students desire interactions with local students, and are willing to go beyond their comfort zone to achieve this, however, most local students are not interested (Marginson, 2012). The language barrier between international students and Australian students is a clear issue. Many exchange students find the Australian accent hard to understand and the terminology and colloquial language difficult to learn. This is a huge disadvantage to non-English speaking students and jeopardises their desires of intercultural experiences.

Another difficulty for international students in Australia is finding accommodation. Whilst most universities offer on-campus accommodation for international students, those who miss out on obtaining a position in university housing must find their own accommodation. This can be extremely expensive as affordable housing is hard to find. “Many students crowd in groups of 10 to 20 into three and four bedroom houses, often in unsanitary and unsafe conditions” (Marginson, 2010). Sadly these international students feel as though they have no other options.

Image source: Herald Sun

International students also experience difficulties in receiving concessions for transport and other forms of government assistance that are available to Australian university students (Australian Government Department of Human Services, 2015). Not only are the university course fees considerably higher for international students, they are unable to receive concession rates for public transport that domestic university students receive. International students must pay full price for transport and are not entitled to any government assistance such as Youth Allowance or Austudy (Australian Government Department of Human Services, 2015). This is a great drawback for international students as the cost of studying in Australia is extremely expensive and can be very difficult to manage without assistance.

International students studying at universities in Australia are subject to complications such as difficulties communicating with Australian students, a struggle to find accommodation and the inability to receive transport concessions and government assistance for their studies. Despite these hardships, the number of international students coming to Australia for university is increasing. With proper policies and an improvement in international education in Australia, these hardships can be overcome. This will hopefully encourage international students to continue to choose to come to Australia for university in the future and improve their experiences in Australian culture.



Australian Government Department of Education 2015, International Student Enrolments in Australia 1994-2014, Commonwealth of Australia, January, viewed 28 August 2015 <>

Department of Human Services 2015, Austudy, Department of Human Services, Australian Government, viewed 29 August 2015 <>

Department of Human Services 2015, Youth Allowance, Department of Human Services, Australian Government, viewed 29 August 2015 <>

Future Unlimited 2015, Why study is Australia?, Future Unlimited, Australian Government, viewed 28 August 2015 <>

Marginson, S 2010, ‘International students left in the shadows’, The Age, 28 May, viewed 29 August 2015 <>

Marginson, S 2012, Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne, viewed 28 August 2015 <>


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