International students on the edge: The precarious impacts of financial stress

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Sociology, 2022, pp. 144078332210847
Issue Date:
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International students are an important global cohort of ‘noncitizens’ whose experiences are central concerns for urban sociologists and migration scholars. Drawing on survey fieldwork conducted among international students in the private rental sector in Sydney and Melbourne during 2019, this article provides new knowledge about the hardships experienced by international students who report financial stress. Using a modified scale developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we highlight the accelerating role of high levels of financial stress in producing disruptive events such as housing evictions and fears of homelessness, as well as reliance on inadequate housing like ‘hot-bedding’. Financial stress is significantly more likely for students from low-GNI (gross national income) countries and higher stress reduces wellbeing. Access to paid employment, however, does not ‘protect’ against higher financial stress. We conclude that higher education policymakers need tools and policies to prevent disruptive life events among international students related to financial stress, particularly those associated with housing.
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