Petrol prices are at the highest point in four years, according to a report by Business Insider Australia and the rising prices are hitting Victoria’s country students hardest.
Students who travel by car to regional universities or universities on the outskirts of the City, where public transport is not great, are having to weigh the benefits of attendance against the cost of petrol.
Petrol has risen from a high, but manageable $1.34 at the start of the semester, to a price nearer $1.50.
Pat Gordon, a student at Deakin university shared his experience. “I live in Stratford, East Gippsland which is about two and half hours away from the university, Each week I’ll come in on a Wednesday…I’ve sort of arranged all my classes for the same day. It’ll cost me around 90 bucks to fill up a tank, as driving to and from will use the whole tank. It’s gotten a lot worse since prices have gone up.”
In other cases lecturers report students emailing that they can’t attend class because they can’t afford to fill up their car.
Petrol prices fluctuate based on a number of factors:
Supply and Demand
Australia’s petrol supply is imported from Singapore. Singapore’s oil companies will assess if the demand for oil exceeds the supply of oil, or vice versa. If the supply is high and the demand is low, prices will often drop, switch it around and the prices increase.
Wholesalers and Retailers
Popular petrol retailers, Caltex Woolworths, Coles Express and 7/11 also have a say in how much they will charge per litre. They, again will assess the demand and supply and find a profitable median. Metropolitan areas will generally receive a favorable price in comparison to regional areas – again disadvantaging students from country Victoria.
Some retailers do manipulate the system to receive the greatest advantage. In a recent ACCC Report, Coles Express was shamed for consistently remaining the highest price for petrol in each major Australian city.
The increase in Petrol prices adversely affects students. Particularly those who come from regional, or outer suburb areas, where public transport isn’t an option.
Student who live in the city, or go to City campuses have not felt the petrol hit in the same way, as Victoria’s public transport focuses on getting travellers into the CBD rather than across the state.
But students who go to universities on Melbourne’s outskirts have also been hit. Some are spending time instead of money and are taking circuitous public transport routes or ride-sharing services as an alternative way to save money.
Claire Sanderson encourages more students to use public transport. “My travels on average will cost me $10 a week, it will depend on what I’m doing, but an average week is generally a lot cheaper [than traveling by car]”.
Fuel prices are truly becoming a burden on Students and Families. ACCC encourages everyone to do their research of cheapest prices around their area, and keep a constant watch on the Petrol cycle.