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International students found sleeping in university library because they 'can't afford accommodation'


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International students in Australia are resorting to sleeping in university buildings because they are struggling to find a place to live due to a lack of affordable housing, ABC News reports.

In March, six international students were discovered sleeping in a library at Port Macquarie's Charles Stuart University (CSU).

Public relations officer with the Council of International Students Australia, Arjun Mathilakath Madathil, says students living in university buildings is something he often hears stories about. "Some students stay at hostels or AirBnbs when they first get here, but once that is done, they become homeless and they feel safer to stay on campus, or in a campus library," he said.

According to the president of Australia’s National Union of Students, institutions are taking on more international students but there remains a lack of affordable housing. He says, “landlords are quite often exploiting that, putting them into subpar accommodation, sometimes illegal, and quite often horrific".

International student, Diya (not her real name), says she had family she could stay with when she first moved to Australia to study, but still struggled to find a place of her own. She explains: "we had applied for so many places, and we got rejected because we are students and it's a high-risk factor for the agents, so getting our own place is quite hard".

Federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham agrees the reports are cause for concern and that action must be taken but also says some of the blame has to fall on the students, stressing it is a students responsibility to meet their visa requirements which state they must be able to support themselves financially.

He said: “It is up to Australian universities to make sure that when they enrol students there is appropriate support for those students, as well as in terms of accommodation.

"But it is also up to students to make sure they are meeting with their visa requirements, that do require them that they're able to support themselves financially while they're in Australia, including accommodation costs."

The students who were found in the library have been offered "a range of accomodation offers", according to CSU's Vice Chancellor, however, all have chosen not to accept them and are instead currently living with friends.

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