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Go Back to the List May 12, 2021
International students in hospitality and tourism can soon work more than 40 hours. But advocates say more support is needed

The federal government has announced changes in the budget that will help international students working in the tourism and hospitality industry get back on their feet after a year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key points:

  • Students have welcomed the move but also fear it's "too little too late" for some 
  • The lack of support for those who struggled through the pandemic has fuelled concerns international students are not valued by the government
  • Tuesday's announcement adds tourism and hospitality to the sectors eligible for the subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic event visa

While continued international border closure until 2022 may mean students cannot come or return to Australia to study, the government is allowing those who are already here to work more hours.

The previous fortnightly limit of 40 hours of work for international student visa holders with jobs in hospitality and tourism is going to be scrapped temporarily.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference on Wednesday the move would be important for the "large numbers" of international students that remained in the country.

"The number is far greater than I think people appreciate that actually remained the country," he said.

But not everybody is happy with the announcement.

Council of International Students Australia national president Belle Lim said for some international students working in these industries the announcement was positive, but for others who are vulnerable it was "too little too late".

Ms Lim said the lack of support for students who struggled to make ends meet due to financial hardship last year showed "international students are not valued by this government"

"There's no mention [in the budget] about how international students contribute to the workforce here in Australia, and all the things that we've been through last year without any support."

She said the government should acknowledge the contribution international students make to the country in many different ways. 

"There are a few well-researched reports coming out and Australia is at the bottom of the list for prospective students, they are going to UK and Canada, even the US," she said.

The government needs to emphasise more around the role of universities and training the next generation of workforce leaders in the region, she said.  

Students facing political crises at home call for more action

International Myanmar student Shin Mon, who works in a cafe while studying, welcomed the change.

However, Ms Mon said she would have liked the government to provide support to international students like her who are dealing with political crises back home.

"We need some action from the university and we need some action from [the] government or other organisations which can help some students [in these situations] with financial aid," she said.

Her family in Myanmar are unable to send money to help support her during times of financial hardship due to the military coup in the country.

"They are also living in risk and we don't even know when they might be at risk of being arrested. So we don't want them to support us anymore, but still, we need [help] to pay our tuition fees."

Last week, the government announced the more than 3,300 Myanmar citizens in Australia were being offered safe haven, with the their visas being extended until it's safe for them to return home.

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Written by Zena Chamas,
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