CANBERRA, Aug. 13 — One in seven Australian university students regularly cannot afford to eat, a national survey released on Monday found.
The Universities Australia Student Finances Survey revealed that one quarter of indigenous university students and one in five from the poorest quarter of households regularly skipped meals.
The survey of 18,500 students from across the country found that the financial position of students had improved slightly since the last survey in 2012.
However, that improvement was the result of students spending less while wage growth has stalled.
“Students studying full-time are only living on 18,000 Australian dollars (13,000 U.S. dollars) a year — that’s well below the poverty line,” Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said in a media release on Monday.
“Education is meant to come first when you are studying, but we know that for some groups of students who live life on the financial edge, that’s just not their reality.
“Many students are trying to get rent and bills paid, and some are trying to keep food on the table for their own children, while juggling paid jobs and their studies.
“Our students should have the basic financial security and stability to perform at their best. Yet that’s simply not the case for many students from disadvantaged groups.”
Two out of every five respondents said they believed their paid work was having a negative impact on their university work while 33 percent regularly missed lectures because of work.
Approximately 60 percent of students identified their finances as a source of stress and 10 percent deferred studying because they could not afford to continue.
“For some, this is a chance to gain valuable work experience and skills that will help fast-track them into a full-time job after they graduate,” Jackson said of working students.
“But for many, the amount of work they need to do to support themselves financially comes at a cost to their studies.” – XINHUA