Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 801 ..
The official 12-month living cost requirement from 1 July 2016 for international students is $19,830. However information on the Immigration and Border Protection Department’s website makes it clear that these amounts “do not necessarily represent the cost of living in Australia”.
Work by international students on weekends and during evenings helps them meet essential living expenses, continue their studies and continue to contribute to Canberra’s economy. If international students cannot afford to live in Australia, specifically in Canberra, they will simply stop coming. That is why this government will not accept any cut to penalty rates.
MR STEEL: Minister, what would be the effect of penalty rate cuts on Canberra’s reputation as a student-friendly city?
MS FITZHARRIS: As we know, the ACT is a very student-friendly city; those in the higher education and training sector recognise this and understand deeply how important it is.
Recently the ANU was named in the top 10 of the most international universities according to the Times higher education rankings. While we all know that the ANU is a distinguished institution, its place in the top 10, ahead of all other Australian universities, also has a lot to do with the type of city Canberra is and our reputation as a student-friendly city.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt recognises this. He said recently:
Canberra is a university town … Giving international students a feeling of welcoming and being part of this city [that is] grossly underrated by Australians, is one of the things the ACT government does really well.
This is a terrific endorsement of our policies that promote Canberra as a student-friendly city, but I also think of broader policies like penalty rates that make working in our city an easy choice for Canberra students.
It is disappointing that we have a federal government and an opposition that support cuts to low paid workers, many of whom will be students our city relies upon. We have worked hard to position Canberra as a student-friendly city and we do not want to jeopardise that. Our city offers a range of study options, from universities to CIT and our strong public and private schools right across the city. The ANU, the University of Canberra, UNSW Canberra, the Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University and CIT and other RTOs are all working hard to protect our reputation as a student-friendly city. It is an enormous competitive advantage that we have.
Canberra even ranks 22nd when it comes to the QS best student cities index, reflecting our large and internationally diverse student population. Combined with the fact that one in nine of our residents work or study at a university or higher education institution, we truly are Australia’s university town and its education capital. We want to keep it that way.