“I was studying a Bachelor of Business and had to pay international student fees, which are very expensive. I had to defer my studies so that I could work full time to pay for my tuition. I would work one semester and then study one semester so that I could afford the fees.”
I am an Afghan Hazara, and I came to Australia in February 2010 on a student visa. While in Australia, the circumstances of my life in Afghanistan changed so that I could never return. I applied for a protection visa in Australia and became an asylum seeker.
I was an asylum seeker for a very long time, and being an asylum seeker comes with a lot of constraints. For example, I was studying a Bachelor of Business and had to pay international student fees, which are very expensive. I had to defer my studies so that I could work full time to pay for my tuition. I would work one semester and then study one semester so that I could afford the fees.
It is very difficult to get a good job, or any work as an asylum seeker. My life was very hard – I worked in a takeaway shop and in a butcher shop. This was particularly exhausting as I had to work very long hours in the freezing cold, far away from where I lived – I travelled two hours on public transport to go to work. It was really tiring and very hard work.
However, I managed to overcome these hardships and I graduated in October. Because of my education, I will soon start working in a bank, which will be much better.
*Name and image changed to protect identity.
Image credit: Joe Crawford, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Help people like Rana- Sign our Petition to Education Ministers
Last year, the Refugee Council of Australia released a report detailing the significant financial barriers that people seeking asylum and refugees face in accessing further education. We are writing to urge the Federal, State and Territory Governments to remove these barriers and allow these people to access the same supports as other Australians.
Unlike holders of permanent humanitarian visas, people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas are not eligible for programs and concessions designed to assist students with financing tertiary study. Without state, territory or federal support, these people are forced to pay very expensive international student fees to attend TAFE, Universities and other institutions. For people who have spent years without the right to work, receiving only $460 a fortnight, this is not a viable option.
Providing further education can have a profound impact on the lives of individuals and also create further benefits for the wider community, both socially and economically. Denying people the opportunity to gain further education impacts their ability to gain employment and positively contribute to Australia.
We believe that the small upfront costs of providing access to this group of people will be greatly outweighed by the benefits. As such, we ask that the Federal, State and Territory Governments allow all people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas equal access to education support.
Refugee Council of Australia