If you’ve ever spent a significant portion of your undergraduate life in a 24-hour study space or library, you’ll have at some stage eyed-off a few ever-present people.
For me, I spent my 2nd year of uni overloading on subjects for completely cock-eyed reasons, meaning many of my essays were concocted late at night – one particularly struggling busy week left me still there as the sun rose. The cleaners arrived and started vacuuming around the stragglers, largely slumped over their Macbooks, impervious to both the cleaning sounds and the 600ml can of Mother they desperately chugged at 4am. Sleeping under fluorescent lights.
Unfortunately, not everyone is there because of eleventh-hour studying or free wifi – last month, NSW’s Charles Sturt University found that six students were living in one of their 24-hour libraries.
The students were all international, studying at CSU’s campus in Port Macquarie, many travelling from Sydney each week to attend classes. The university offered the students accommodation options, but all advised the uni they were “staying with friends” when visiting Port Macquarie. Hmm.
Talking to the ABC, Council of International Students Australia’s public relations officer Arjun Mathilakath Madathil said that many international students often live illegally on campus, and are often subject to housing scams and homelessness.
“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.
Occasionally, students will organise accommodation while overseas and arrive to learn it doesn’t exist or is very different (read: much shitter) than what was sold online.
Affordable housing is clearly an issue too: at last estimates, there are currently 44,000 homeless people under 25 in Australia.