Students who have relocated from Dubbo to Sydney for tertiary education are struggling with the costs of living and say it will be impossible for students to afford it in years to come unless something is done.
It costs an estimated $25,000 to $30,000 a year for students from the country to live and study in Sydney and new research conducted estimates costs and university fees will rise by 66 per cent during the next 10 years.
On Tuesday, Sydney was named the world’s fifth most expensive city to live in, emphasising the challenge that faces students who are relocating from country areas.
Not only are they hit by crippling accommodation costs but also face big bills for transport, electricity and costs associated with study like textbooks, laptops and internet.
Dubbo student Michael Tonkins moved to Sydney last month and has started a Bachelor of Audio Engineering and Sound Production at JMC Academy.
He completed high school in 2011 and spent the past two years working to save money and be eligible for Youth Allowance.
“I’ve been in Sydney a month now and I really enjoy it but I am finding money is the big problem,” Michael said.
“I get Youth Allowance but once I have paid rent, bills and food there isn’t too much of that left,” he said.
“I pay rent weekly and get my youth allowance fortnightly so I have to budget that.”
“Rent is the biggest cost but transport is another one.”
“Until I got my student card it was costing me more than $40 a week and even now it is still about $25.”
Like universities, fees for private colleges can be put on HECS but there are still other costs associated with studying that have to be paid upfront.
“I’ve got textbooks to buy, I need studio headphones which were another $400, as well as a computer and audio programs,” Michael said.
“They have taken a chunk out of the savings I had earned while I was working.”
“I’d like to get a job to give me some extra money but it’s not easy in this economy, especially when you need one that is flexible around your studies.”
Without taking two years off and working, Danielle Soole said she wouldn’t have been able to afford to got to university in Sydney.
The 20-year-old has begun studying a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science at Sydney University but said without being eligible for Youth Allowance, she wouldn’t be able to survive.
“It would be almost impossible to juggle university and working enough to make ends meet,” Danielle said.
“I have university five days a week, morning and afternoon so the only job I can get is weekend work.
“The money you would earn from that wouldn’t be enough to pay for everything.”
Michael said it was already a challenge to balance expenses but he believed if the cost of living in Sydney continued to rise, there would be less country students able to afford to study in Sydney.
“Even now it would be nice if Youth Allowance provided an extra $50 or $100 a fortnight because it would provide a bit more breathing room,” he said.
“If anything unexpected happens at the end of the fortnight, it’s going to be a struggle.
“If it gets more expensive in the future, it’s going to be even harder.”