TRAVEL CONCESSIONS are available to all under-graduate students in Victoria EXCEPT overseas students. “Discrimination!” says Marc Barry, Activities Coordinator for international students at RMIT English Worldwide, the university’s language education arm, in Melbourne. Marc both teaches English and coordinates student activities, preparing young internationals for study in Australia.
MARC IS AN ACTIVIST – he feels for his students, the greater percentage of whom are NOT from wealthy families. Clearly activities will help new students settle in, make friends and generally cope with ‘student life’, but activities cost money!
ONE OF MARC’S TACTICS is to periodically email suggestions to a list of likely people and follow up any interest.
$95 PER MONTH is Marc’s own travel cost. He is adamant that a student saving half of this amount by way of concession would certainly spend it. Much lobbying has been done – by some very influential organisations – but no-one wants to listen.
COOKING CLASSES are also a definite need, says Marc, as many students have no idea how to cook and waste money on takeaway food. Box Hill TAFE has taken up his cooking class idea and will offer it as a short course to international students. He is also investigating the possibility of Neighbourhood Houses offering courses.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
1)students will of course tell parents and friends about life here – what they weren’t told, what they didn’t expect; how they are settling in;
2)they hear that other states offer travel concessions;
3)they surmise that with the Commonwealth Games in 2006, Melbourne could be a terrorist target;
4)China, and many other Asian countries, are developing their own English language schools.
Education is a large, lucrative market. Students can be ambassadors for a state or region, attracting parents’ visits and future students. For all states and regions it seems promoting an education system might be more effective in the longer term if the ‘product’ is developed beyond a name on an enrolment list.
Marc Barry – Email: marc.barry@RMIT.edu.au