As soon as I finished reading “Students Kept in the Dark by Their Very Own International Students’ Department” by Muhammed Taufiq bin Sauradi I got angry. Actually not angry, FURIOUS. Why? Because I, as an international student, was not informed about ANU’s elimination of the 5% cap on my fees.
I took part of the anti-deregulation protests because I disagreed with most of the unequal policies that had been put forward by the government. Technically this has nothing to do with me. I am an international student and I shouldn’t really care about domestic students’ fees because it doesn’t directly affect me. Deregulation openly targets domestic students and it seems to have no relation to my life. But I do not believe that this is true. I know that deregulation will affect my friends’ families as well as me.
International students are the cash cows of the university. We already pay full up-front fees. While I am grateful that my family can afford to provide me with such a wonderful opportunity to study at the ANU, I feel extremely conscious of the sacrifices that are involved. And I am sure I am not the only international student who feels that way. So what worried me about the fee deregulation was the fact that there was no mention in changing international fees. I made me very sceptical to believe that the university would have allowed international students to get away with it. They couldn’t possibly have allowed domestic and international fees to equalise. Turns out that my doubts were not unfounded. Surely the university is not eliminating the 5% cap so that they can charge lower fees. And I doubt that the international student body would be ok with this change.
Yet, unlike the domestic students we still sit at our desks studying. I don’t think this has happened because we wouldn’t actually care. I think this has happened because the ISD failed to communicate to the body it represents. They try to defend themselves from the accusations claiming that previous commitments did not allow for the meeting with Richard Baker to take place. I believe that this is a poor excuse. But they are missing the point of the article. Muhammed Taufiq is not saying ‘bad ISD who doesn’t attend meetings’, he is saying that the ISD has failed to truly advocate for international students through the lack of communication and action towards this issue.
After reading the article I thought: ‘Why didn’t I receive an email concerning this?’ ‘Why did I found out about this through a Woroni article?’ ‘Why was I not actively involved in the process of negotiating this change?’ ‘Why was I not informed about the ISD’s strategies to deal with the problem?’ ‘Why does the ISD continue to act as if the student body they represent can’t actually stand up for itself?’ I felt powerless and angry thinking that the ISD is able to advertise their ball but not advocate for international students’ rights. Do not get me wrong, student activities are a great way to unite the community but I feel this 5% fee cap is more important than worrying about what dress I should wear for the ball.
Right now I’m in shocked and disappointed. I want to see real communication and real student activism on this issue. The ISD must publish an article that appropriately addresses the issue. With this, I shall end here in hope that the ISD can prove itself to be a true student representative. Now.