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Bordering on the absurd for students

By Kevin Hawkins - posted Monday, 9 July 2012

When does a student cease to be a student?

Is it when they complete their undergraduate education? Or is it when they find their very first full-time job?

The answer is neither. In fact, a student loses his or her identity the moment they cross a border. And I'm not talking about international political boundaries - I'm talking about crossing the Murray River.


In my home state of Victoria, I am officially classified as a university student.

I know this because I catch a train and tram into the city every day, on a journey that inevitably finishes up in a lecture theatre. Every now and then, the accompanying tertiary institution sends me a bill in the mail to remind me I am enrolled in their course.

Across the border, however, the New South Wales government believes all this is a fallacy.

The same goes in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

In each of these states, the local transport authorities believe I am a foreigner. A financially viable foreigner, too.

For instance, it didn't matter to the customer service attendant at one of Sydney's city railway stations that I possessed a valid student identification badge. Nor did it matter to him that I owned a Public Transport concession card.


The fact that both were produced in Victoria meant they were worthless pieces of plastic, about as useful as AFL memorabilia to a Sydneysider.

The attendant subsequently refused my request to buy a discounted rail ticket, informing me I would have to dish out 200% of my intended travel budget for an adult fare.

I couldn't blame this man for sticking to his policies; he was merely doing his job.

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About the Author

Kevin Hawkins is a freelance writer and Media student at the University of Melbourne. He blogs at

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