Visa Crunch

Australian Government Launches Engagement Research Project

The Australian government has funded renowned international education scholars to conduct research on best practises in foreign student involvement.

The academic group, which includes Ly Tran, Jill Blackmore, Danielle Hartridge, Helen Forbes-Mewett, Renata Aldana, and Diep Nguyen, will work with Insider Guides to identify enabling and inhibiting factors for international student support provision and will highlight both good and bad practises. The endeavour, financially backed by Australia’s Department of Education, Skills, and Employment, is one of a few that the government is funding to help implement the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030.

According to Ly Tran, the team has previously conducted extensive research on assisting international students in intercultural connectedness, work-integrated learning, and employability, teaching and learning, mental health and well-being. The researchers will gather information from ELICOS, schools, VET, and higher education providers in Australia and around the world.

“We have a broad understanding of the principles underpinning good support provision but in this new project, we are going to identify what actual good practices look like and develop much more nuances on how to foster optimal student experiences across a range of areas,” she explained.

The group is eager to hear the perspectives and experiences of a diverse range of community organisations, professional organisations, government departments, state and territory governments, local councils, employers, ethnic organisations, youth associations, business councils, housing providers, and OSHC providers. Tran went on to say.

“We are also keen to hear from international students and graduates, and student organisations,” she said. “We want to gather information about their experiences with effective programs and activities that facilitate their engagement, their needs and perspectives about engagement with domestic peers, education providers, support services, potential employers and local communities, including the factors enabling or inhibiting this engagement.”

The money comes from the government’s $10 million international education innovation fund, which was announced in February 2022 and included $300,000 to “create a best practise guide for the sector on international student engagement.”

“Catering for international students’ needs during crises, including war, geopolitical, health, financial and disaster crises, has emerged as a critical area of international student support that warrants more nuanced understandings so as to set the foundation for building good practices to support this cohort,” Tran explained.

According to current research, good support provision must be inclusive and responsive to students’ diverse needs, and empathy must be at the heart of any support programme. It must also “be context-situated and adaptable so that it can respond to the factors influencing the changing context, such as policy, cohorts, sectors, or emerging crises,” according to Tran.

“Support services would be more effective if they capitalise on and provide opportunity for international students to co-design and enact agency in enhancing the support for themselves and their peers,” she added.

“Our project is set out to expand our current knowledge and build the evidence base to develop appropriate support in this area.”

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