a rookie doc's rants and raves

Sunday, November 19, 2006


ADAM Huber is a medical student at the University of NSW. He is also homeless and lives in a park as he struggles to pay the annual $33,000 tuition fee.
The 24-year-old American international student survives on a diet of peanut butter, tuna and crackers.
At night, a small tarp and blankets provide his only shelter from the elements while possums share his bush hideaway.
Mr Huber has been homeless for most of the 18 months he has been studying for his Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery degree at the Kensington university.
His situation has been so dire he has resorted to eating food out of a rubbish bin at the back of a supermarket and begging for leftovers from local cafes.
"At times I didn't know how I was going to make it," he said.
More a victim of bad luck than bad planning, Mr Huber believed he had won a scholarship in which his tuition and living expenses would be paid in return for working on a project researching prostate cancer.
But when he arrived in Sydney at the start of 2005, he was told the research grant had fallen through and he'd have to find the $33,000 up-front payment.
"My uncle sponsored me a flight to Australia and I was really excited to start, then I lost this grant so I had no idea how I was going to pay the fees," he said.
Faced with losing his spot in the medical school, he took a job at a sleep disorder clinic, working night shifts while trying to keep up his study during the day.
Mr Huber said: "I worked 18 12-hour overnight shifts in a row once because they weren't going to let me sit the final exam and I needed to come up with the money.
"I was able to pay off 50 to 60 per cent of it but I wasn't eating - I had to sacrifice food to pay off my fees - and I still had to take out a loan because I couldn't make it."
Mr Huber said the Faculty of Medicine, which is aware of his situation, has repeatedly threatened to block his results and take away his access to the university buildings, library and all other services. He has been told to "drop out" and sent to see a psychiatrist. The university union was similarly unable to help.
"I've received letters that I will be sent to a collections agency and I've also been told that by not paying my fees I am in violation of my visa and would therefore be reported to immigration," he said.

A spokeswoman said UNSW was unaware of the scholarship. She said UNSW offered programs, including low-cost housing assistance, through a student affairs co-ordinator.
"These opportunities have not been taken up," she said.

"Any student is able to defer studies [and return to their home country], should they choose to do so, in order to earn more money to support themselves through their studies."
But after passing all his subjects last year - despite not owning a single textbook - Mr Huber is determined to get his degree and go on to work for international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres.
"My will's pretty strong. I know what I want to do, I know who I want to work for and I've never wanted to work in the States," he said.
"In the US health-care system, you're just working for rich people."
He hopes to find a sponsor to help him pay his fees or gain permanent residency in Australia so he can get a Commonwealth supported place in the school.
"I know there's a high need in indigenous communities and an incredible opportunity to work in under-served populations in Australia," he said.
Degrees of difficulty: annual fees
* UNSW Commonwealth-supported students (HECS) - $8170.
* Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at UNSW - $33,360 for full fee-paying international students.
* Medical degree at Harvard - $46,792 a year.
* Maximum annual fee at all British universities - $7489.
* All Canadian universities - $12,174.
* National University of Singapore - $70,249
--- the above post is takent from another medical blog but i forgot the link/url... please if someone can tell me the source, i would like to give appropriate credits.


Blogger Mark said...

Hey, I did an introduction to your site on Blogs of Medical Students. Keep on writing (and rocking in the freeworld!)

1:58 AM  
Blogger Sam Bennet said...

Hi samip,
I enjoyed reading your blog and thought I would find the missing link to this story by googleing the first sentence.
Here is the link. It is to a Sydney Morning Herald article.

4:30 AM  

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