"Promoting participation and engagement in city life
Melbourne has one of the highest proportion of international students of any municipal area in the
world. The City of Melbourne recognises and values the presence and contribution that international
students make to the social and cultural life of Melbourne. In 2006, there were over 21,000
international students who were living and/or studying in the municipality and this figure has
continued to grow. The increasing presence of international students in the city has contributed to a
resurgence of city living and council works closely in partnership with tertiary institutes, peak bodies
and international students themselves to ensure that their health and well-being needs are met, and
they have opportunities to participate and engage in the social and cultural life of the city.
In 2008, the City of Melbourne held three forums with representatives from state and local
government, peak bodies, educational institutions and residents groups. These forums identified the
key issues for international students in the municipality in relation to social inclusion, safety and
accommodation, and provided an opportunity to discuss future partnership strategies and initiatives.
This presentation will outline the key findings from these forums. Social isolation and difficulties
integrating into Australian life are two key issues that are commonly identified by international
students and key stakeholder groups. The City of Melbourne Welcome to International Students held
in April 2008 will be highlighted as an example of how council has attempted to address this issue in
collaboration with those involved in international education. A short film about the event will be
screened as part of the presentation.
Narratives of international education: the student perspective on the export trade in Australia
Abstract: International education is a major contributor to the Australian economy. By the end of
2007, it was ranked third, after coal and iron ore, as an export earner, having overtaken
tourism to become the most successful service industry in Australia. The financial
success of the industry, however, overshadows other aspects of the trade in education.
In this paper, I focus on the role of government policy in international education, and its
effect on overseas students. Government policy decisions regarding the IELTS
(International English Language Testing System) testing regime, and the linking of
education and immigration, have had a major impact on international students. As part of
a research project at my workplace, an ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for
Overseas Students) college in Sydney, I conducted a series of interviews to determine the
students’ reactions to policy decisions and to other aspects of their lives and studies here.
The interviewees were teachers and students in IELTS preparation classes. These classes
prepare students for the IELTS test, which can be used for entry to university or college,
or for immigration purposes. The student responses are presented here as narratives, each
being a different perspective on the lived experience of international education in
Australia. Through these narratives, the impact of the export trade in education on
students is presented and analysed in the context of government policy on trade and
Food, conversations and the wireless: AFIS reaching its constituency, 2002 onwards.
Mr Wai Ken Wong, Mr Douglas Tsoi, Ms Wesa Chau, Mr Amgad Elmahdi, Mr Darren Li
Abstract: International students studying in Australia bring with them a diversity of cultural views, values and
observations. Adapting to a country such as Australia poses as a challenge for international students
due to the difference in culture and values. Not only are they faced with the issues of becoming
accustomed to a different set of views, values and observations, but they must also integrate their
cultural ideals with the wider Australian community. These barriers challenge a student’s entry into
the wider community.
Several institutions have addressed the difficulties of international students with a range of services,
products and programs. However, a lack of awareness and reflection, outdated methods, and the
predatory tactics of some commercial institutions present a limit to the effectiveness of this wellintended
allocation of resources.
Heightened awareness to the cultural values of international students and a better understanding of
the issues they face is imperative to improving the interaction and engagement between
international students and the wider community. Hence, independent organisations unbound by
political and commercial agendas are perfectly positioned as unbiased intermediaries to serve the
international student community.
Hindered engagement and interaction between international students and the wider Australian
community often lead to social exclusion and cultural division, which, is often at the core of many
fundamental issues faced by the international student community.
Since 2002, AFIS (Australian Federation of International Students), has and continue to reach,
inform and assist the international student community and its interlocutors, the Australian
community through its initiatives. The following presentation will demonstrate the variety and
effectiveness of the means and methods behind these initiatives.
Key Words: Social inclusion, Diversity, Integration, Independent organisations
INTEGRATION & INTERACTION
Abstract: The goal for all institutions is to look at ways to develop integration and interaction as soon as
a student is engaged at the offer stage. The Course guides are colourful the resources of
reading materials are a plenty. However, in many cases the majority of students that we are
trying to connect with have English as a second language. So with the plethora of
information we send before they arrive, just how much are they reading? What are they truly
absorbing? How accurate are their expectations?
It is these questions that we were asking at Victoria University that prompted us to do some of
our resources a little differently. To support the transition of all international students we
took up the challenge of creating a DVD that captures and portrays real life experiences of
Students from the time they leave the plane and arrive in Melbourne. We decided these
experiences could be better delivered through the medium of a DVD as this information
cannot always be captured by reading arrival and travel books alone. This DVD also provided
a means for interaction with the student’s support network in their home country.
The eM-Power Game: A game playing approach to international student support
Cheryl Cook, Julie Murray and Dr Stuart Levy
Abstract: The challenges of engaging with a university environment are encountered on at least three levels – academic, personal and cultural. Not all of these challenges are stated, visible, easily recognised or even acknowledged. As a consequence, difficulties often arise for individuals to successfully navigate their way through the uncharted waters of academia. Studies and professional experience, have shown that students repeatedly encounter common traps, difficulties and problems when making the transition into the tertiary learning environment. Whilst these are commonplace observations, orientation strategies for dealing with them could be more effective and innovative. Traditionally, institutions take a conservative approach to student induction, and these methods are notoriously poor mechanisms for the effective transfer of information. Rather than talking ‘at’ the assembled students in a passive learning environment the eM-Power Game seeks to raise students’ awareness of important information through an activity based learning format.
Key words: game playing, transition, international student transition, problem solving, teaching and
learning, international student support