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New Survey Seeks to Improve Work Conditions for International Students

As an international student in Australia, balancing work and study is a common experience. Unfortunately, many international students face unfair treatment at work, with fewer than 1 in 10 seeking help when this happens. The Migrant Justice Institute’s upcoming survey aims to change that.

Launching in July, this survey is open to international students from universities and private colleges, as well as working backpackers. It is supported by key organisations in Australia, including IEAA, English Australia, Universities Australia, and ISANA.

By sharing your experiences, you can help gather the data needed to improve working conditions for all international students.


Workplace exploitation of international students isn’t a new issue. A 2019 survey by the Migrant Justice Institute revealed that 77% of international students were paid below the minimum wage, and 32% of Bachelor’s degree students earned just half the minimum casual hourly wage or less ($12/hr or less). Moreover, 62% of students believed they were at fault for accepting below-minimum wages, and many feared seeking help due to potential visa issues.

While reforms such as harsher penalties and a public stand-down list for businesses that exploit migrant workers have since been made, the 2024 survey is important for understanding what has improved and what still needs to be addressed.

2024 international student workplace exploitation survey

The Migrant Justice Institute’s 2024 survey will run from 8 July to 31 August 2024,  inviting universities across Australia to encourage their international students to take part. Here are some of the key details of the survey:

  • Duration: Takes only 10-15 minutes to complete.
  • Accessibility: Conducted online, accessible via phone or computer.
  • Languages: Available in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Nepali.
  • Privacy: Completely anonymous and secure.
  • Prizes: Chance to win one of 50 x $200 Mastercard vouchers.

What will the survey cover?

The survey addresses key issues that international students face at work, including:

  • Wage underpayment
  • Workplace safety
  • Exploitation indicators (including sexual harassment, employer coercion and modern slavery)
  • Accommodation problems linked to job-related housing
  • Barriers to seeking help

The findings will be published in public reports and shared through webinars and briefings. Institutions with over 150 participating students will receive a confidential report detailing the specific experiences and support needs of their students. The survey follows strict ethical guidelines, and no identifiable data will be shared, with the prize draw conducted separately to maintain privacy.

Why your participation matters

The Migrant Justice Institute’s 2024 survey is your chance to make a real difference. By participating, you can help shape policies that protect international students and develop support programs tailored to your needs. Previous surveys by the Migrant Justice Institute have led to significant policy changes and new services for students.

Your voice can make a big difference!