Foreign students being exploited in Victoria, Australia

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Nearly 60% of international students in Victoria could be receiving below minimum wage rates, a study by Monash and Melbourne university academics has revealed.

Interviews with 200 international students drawn from nine universities across Victoria revealed that up to 58.1% of students surveyed were paid below $15 an hour, with 33.9% receiving less than $10 an hour.

The results from a $3 million Australian Research Council-funded study come just a month after hundreds of taxi drivers, many of whom were students from India, protested against conditions in their industry outside Flinders Street station.

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The study also found:

■ International students are often pressured to take jobs not wanted by domestic workers.

■ At least a third work more than the 20 hours allowed under study visas, forcing them to take jobs 'off the books' with no industrial relations protection.

■ The influx of international students working outside industrial relations controls adversely affects overall conditions in the workforce.

■ The problems started in 1991 when international students rights in the workplace were narrowly defined as the 'right to work' by the federal government.

One of the academics involved in the study, Professor Chris Nyland, yesterday told The Age he was happy there were signs the Victorian Government was developing policy options. But he hit out at the Federal Government for its 'protracted' reply.

'The Rudd Government has shown no sign of recognising this as an issue,' Professor Nyland said. 'There was a 94-page higher education discussion document (from the Rudd Government) that was issued. I have gone through that and there is lots of references to international education, lots of references to international student fees, nothing in there about international student welfare.'

The office of acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard

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