Foreign students shut out of Vic uni poll

Student elections have been postponed at Monash University over the exclusion of foreign students.
Student elections have been postponed at Monash University over the exclusion of foreign students.

Student elections at a leading Victorian university have been cancelled after a controversial change saw overseas students barred from running.

The student union at Monash University's campus at Caulfield changed the rules so students running for election must be eligible to work 22 hours per week.

Foreign students can only work 20 hours under their visa conditions.

The changes reportedly impacted about six candidates.

Monash University officials denied they forced the union to cancel the election but did confirm union officials had been spoken to.

"Representatives from Monash Student Union Caulfield decided that due to the confusion over the time commitment the election would be cancelled and run again at a later date," a Monash University spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The change to the time commitment was made in recognition of the amount of hours necessary to complete the role, she said.

"It was not designed to make any student (domestic or international) ineligible."

In a statement released on Wednesday night the union said they had met with Monash University officials to discuss issues "around minimum weekly workloads" raised during the current election.

"MONSU Caulfield has made the decision to cancel the current student election due to unforeseen circumstances," the statement read.

The controversy drew a response from Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien.

"This does seem to be just a case of student politicians getting way above themselves ... You can't take (foreign students') compulsory union fees and say 'sorry, you don't get a vote'," he said on Thursday.

"That's not the way democracy works in this country."

He said it was clear the union "overstepped the mark" and the university had every right to step in.

The rescheduled election details will be released shortly and is expected to take place in week 12 of the current semester.

Australian Associated Press