Internships are a requirement for many degrees in Australia. In some courses such as engineering, these are paid but often times such as social work they are unpaid. This is an exploitative process where students have to give up paid employment to work hundreds of hours a semester affecting their quality of living and placing financial stress on them. Not only this but the student actually have to pay their universities up to $7,000 to undertake this work.
How are students expected to live when they have to give up hundreds of hours of paid employment to do unpaid work. Students are expected to support themselves through this period, often for 2-3 months just living off of their savings. This is an unrealistic expectation especially with the rising cost of living and huge increase in rents across the country.
Paid internships are much more productive. When companies have to pay students they want to make sure that they are maximising each hour for what is most profitable, this usually involves performing genuine work for that organisation. When students are unpaid companies have no interest in their productivity and often have them performing menial jobs such as fetching coffee to support other staff.
The NUS Stands against unpaid internships and does not believe they provide the value of educational experience as required under the law. We believes that in an equitable society all people should be paid for every hour of work, (unless they are volunteering for a charitable organisation. We do not believe that students should be paying fees to undertake unpaid internship units.
For those internships which are not paid, that the government should expand welfare programs to provide a stipend to these students equivalent to at least the minimum wage.
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