Over the last two weeks, VUWSA International Students’ Association has been campaigning for fair fees and equitable access to scholarships for international students. Not only do international students pay four or five times more than domestic students, our fees increase four to five per cent on average per year. This is in contrast to the three per cent for domestic students. Moreover, there is only one scholarship available for international students—one that does not discriminate between nationality, level of study, and field of study. There is no scholarship for international students who are struggling financially. Much to the university’s ignorance, many of the international students take loans from their home countries to get a better education. Some have expressed fear of dropping out of university if fees get arbitrarily high.
Our campaign is not just about money. We are getting students to do our survey and to tell us wider problems that they face. The preliminary results are worrisome. Over 90 per cent of the students who want to gain employment are struggling to find one. Over 50 per cent of students say that financial constraints have affected them emotionally. An overwhelming 60 per cent say that their parents are willing to compromise on their savings to support them. International students are NOT cash cows. Neither are our parents.
I always believed that if you worked hard enough, you can reach for bigger dreams. You will be rewarded. I am not sure anymore. Well, you are rewarded with a straight-As function where you laugh merrily along with other twenty-odd students and pose for pictures. All in the name of publicity. In the absence of scholarships and bursaries, token gestures like such trivialise student achievements and sweep aside struggles. Happy students? Well-supported? Not at all. Students struggling financially struggle academically as well.
To all the domestic students out there, V-ISA does not want to campaign in isolation. We need you to share our Facebook post (www.facebook.com/VUWVISA) to promote a fair and diverse learning environment. To all the international students out there, do our survey: https://goo.gl/forms/Xd87buSD49iejpQh1.
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Why suppress yourself when you can actually speak out?