One of the biggest concerns that most students have while moving to another country to pursue their higher education, is the financial aspect of it. Whether it is to earn some pocket money or to gain independence and share their parents’ burden of their education expense, most students seek to start earning at the earliest feasible, along with their education.
Unfortunately, however, a major challenge in achieving this is, several countries across the globe which students aspire to migrate to, have an intense coursework as part of their programs, along with strict migration norms for students, that leave limited or no scope to work part-time while studying. This makes higher education in most countries, a relatively expensive affair, especially for the middle-income-group, when coupled with the pressures of a student-loan.
However, there are a few countries offering that desired ray of hope to international students who wish to begin their journey towards self-sufficiency, while also excelling at their academics. One such country that is in huge demand for this reason, besides its state-of-the-art education, cosmopolitan culture, picturesque localities, and standard of living, is Australia.
The ‘earn while you learn’ policy is one of the biggest privileges that Australia has to offer to all local and international students. Under the student visa for Australia, it is legally permissible to work for 20 hours per week, alongside one’s university coursework and for hours equivalent to a full-time job i.e. 40 hours a week, during any official university break, irrespective of whether one is enrolled in the Bachelor’s or Master’s programme. Every person on a student visa in Australia – whether it is an international student visa, or a working-holiday visa, has basic work rights such as a minimum wage and superannuation, breaks and holidays, and a healthy and secure work environment, besides the right to contest an unfair dismissal from one’s job. This provision not only allows international students to make a living, but also to get exposure to life outside of their university, meet people from different walks of life, mingle with locals beyond the campus, and explore the city they’re in. Thus, working while studying here complements a student’s education and living experience.
This ‘part-time’ work privilege ranges from a job in one’s area of study, if one has the required qualifications and skills to a casual job in a different space. There are countless part-time and casual work opportunities available all over Australia under diverse industries such as Hospitality (bars restaurants, cafes), Retail (supermarkets, department and clothing stores), Tourism (hotels, motels, service apartments and public transport related roles), Administration/Clerical Work, Sales and Telemarketing, Agriculture (farming and fruit-picking), Tutoring, and University Assistance.
Students who struggle to secure part-time employment in their desired field due to lack of qualifications or experience can opt for paid/unpaid internships, to receive professional and creative industry exposure, where students can build a rapport with the organisation and set the base to potentially be absorbed full-time on the completion of their studies.
Volunteering is another way for students to get hands-on experience outside of one’s university, while also contributing to the community’s welfare. Several universities in Australia such as UNSW have ongoing Volunteering programmes and fairs that constantly encourage students to join renowned non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and participate in their noble initiatives.
There are a number of resources available in Australia to secure part-time work, internships and volunteering related opportunities. Either a student can rely on newspapers, online job boards, and university portals, or approach the university directly, for assistance. UNSW has a dedicated Career and Recruitment cell, along with support staff, who aid students in securing online and on-field internships, noteworthy volunteering opportunities as well as substantial part-time work.
With a robust system of work-rights, and a plethora of employment opportunities available, an Australian student visa has become a golden ticket to seamless habitation while studying in the country, especially for international students.
Mr Amit Dasgupta, India Country Director, University of New South Wales(UNSW).