Setting Standards for International Student Support
Abstract: The substance of this paper was delivered at the 2007 Australian International Education Conference in Melbourne, and presented as a stimulus for discussion about practical approaches to the issues of international student support management. This later version contains additional material that reflects the discussion and panel presentations at the AIEC session.
The impetus for this presentation remains the responses of providers to Standard 6 of The National Code 2007. One of the obligations, in Standard 6.6 of the Code, requires ‘sufficient support personnel to meet the needs of students…’ What do providers understand by this? What are our obligations to meet this specific requirement? Have we adequately defined the needs of international students? What is being done to implement this Standard? The paper describes a small research study conducted with a number of universities and secondary schools. Staff capability, staff resources and international student services, all matters addressed in the National Code, are considered in a number of contexts. Focus is on the effective use of staffing to offer maximum opportunities for students to achieve overall success while they are studying in Australia.
Keywords: National code, international student services, staff resources, staff capability, support management
Relationships and Friendships across Cultures:
Kate Borrett and Ania Zysk
Abstract: Talking about sexuality, relationships and friendships may be perceived as a ‘taboo’ topic of conversation in many cultures. This poses a challenge for engaging international students and in providing education on sexual health and the negotiation of healthy relationships. As part of their orientation activities, commencing international students at UniSA were invited to attend a forum on relationships and friendships across cultures on 14 February 2007. The forum was held as part of Valentine’s Day celebrations and Sexual Health Awareness Week and was followed by a morning tea where SHine SA provided information about sexual health and relationships. This paper describes an educative model that utilises ‘story telling’ to engage international students in discussion about relationships and friendships in their new University and cultural environment. It offers a format by which students can seek information in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner. It also explores the possibilities for student engagement and the shared moments that occur outside the formal classroom environment.
Keywords International students, sexual health, cross-cultural relationships, cross-cultural friendships, student engagement, story telling
More than just a degree
Abstract: In the competitive employment market employers are looking for talent well beyond the direct skill and knowledge a graduate can bring to the role. At Monash University developing a broad and positive student experience is a commitment shared across its community and activity is reported through a committee structure directly to the vice chancellor. Case studies will be shared within this paper demonstrating the collaborative work to broaden students’ experience, and the many personal and professional rewards voiced by the students involved in the various programs and opportunities. Student success in international education is critical for both students and their University. The preparedness for gaining quality employment across the globe requires Universities to address many aspects of academic and non-academic delivery. Obtaining ‘more than just a degree’ is to leverage off the rich opportunities available at the University and differentiate your ability with a leading edge when facing the workforce. An increasing number of international students are embracing this and through a supportive University environment they explore and practise various skills for both personal and professional growth.
Through growing engagement and volunteering, international students at Monash University reap the benefits of the opportunities available to them throughout the year. Case studies will focus on the programs delivered through the International Student Support (ISS) office, including Peer Mentor program (offering extensive training), teams assisting new students during pre-departure (in home country), on arrival, during registration, orientation, late arrival and settling in. Language and cultural exchange programs, where learning occurs directly between peers - developing language skills and culture awareness. Strong working relationships and support also exists between the ISS staff and the International Student Association representatives. Working in student associations brings many varied and valuable skills including working in committees, event management, financial management, building relationships across the University, communication and negotiation skills, greater awareness of the University structures and processes, and much more. Students also gain paid casual employment assisting in the ISS office.
Individual student success is felt and measured by the experiences gained through meaningful contribution and involvement beyond the course itself. The feedback from students engaged in the various volunteering and paid roles shows the importance of a broader experience while at University. Students report feeling valued and being a part of the University, able to make positive and important contribution, receive broader training and learn new skills & practise them safely, broaden engagement and relationships with different students and staff, develop skills in leadership, improve communication, presentation, organising events, explore their interests and abilities more broadly, receive formal acknowledgement and recognition provided by the University for their contribution and participation.
Keywords: employment, international education, peer mentor program, relationships
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Moving Towards Independence: International Student Needs beyond the classroom
Kathryn Richardson and Assoc. Prof. Rosalind Hurworth
Abstract: Fitting into a new culture brings many preconceived expectations and uncertainties, particularly for students who are also navigating the complications of adolescence. As adolescents, international students attending secondary schools still require the help and confidence of adults who they respect and with whom they can confide safely. This paper reports some of the findings from a survey and interviews investigating the needs of international students attending secondary schools. Overseas students in a variety of care settings were invited to comment regarding their settlement in Australia. There were 318 questionnaire respondents and eighteen students participated in the interviews. The study was examining the factors that enable them to move from requiring considerable support upon arrival to functioning confidently and independently within the Australian environment.
Three main factors emerged from the research. The first involved the preconceived expectations held by the students prior to arrival, and how these impacted their experiences upon arrival. The second factor involved the link between friendship patterns and communicative competence. Finally, the role of significant adults associated with the international students’ lives was examined.
Key words: International students, adolescent, welfare, culture, settlement, friendship
Introduction to research or international PhD and Masters by research students
Abstract: Designed and implemented as a joint project between International student services and the Research Students Centre and overseen by the Dean of Graduate Studies, RIS offers a series of intensive classes, presentations and workshops to new international research students at QUT. The core purpose of this program is to help international research students become familiar with the linguistic and academic expectations as well as the cultural conventions required to undertake research at QUT.
This program has been running since 2005 and over 200 students have successfully participated. In 2007 we faced a considerable challenge in that numbers for the course tripled and we were asked to increasingly liaise with and involve academic staff and students ’ supervisors in the course. This presentation will provide background information about how we met these challenges and the key factors in its success.
Keywords: Interntational student services, international research students, academic expectations
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