Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country that welcomes international students from all over the world. According to the latest data from the Department of Education, there were 622,032 international students studying on a student visa in Australia in the first half of 2023. This represents a diverse mix of cultures, languages, religions and backgrounds that enriches the Australian society and education system.
Why Study in Australia?
International students choose to study in Australia for various reasons, such as:
- The high quality of education, which is recognised internationally and offers a wide range of courses and degrees.
- The friendly and safe environment, which is tolerant, respectful and supportive of different cultures and lifestyles.
- The attractive lifestyle, which offers a variety of natural and urban attractions, recreational activities and entertainment options.
- The opportunities for personal and professional development, which include gaining valuable skills, knowledge and experience, building networks and connections, and exploring career pathways.
What are the Challenges of Studying in Australia?
Studying in a foreign country can also pose some challenges and difficulties for international students, such as:
- Adjusting to a new culture, language and academic system, which can cause culture shock, communication barriers and academic stress.
- Coping with homesickness, isolation and discrimination, which can affect the emotional and mental health of international students.
- Managing finances and visa issues, which can create financial pressure and uncertainty for international students.
- Finding suitable accommodation and employment, which can be challenging due to limited availability, affordability and legality.
How to Seek Support and Assistance?
Therefore, it is important for international students to seek support and assistance from various sources, such as:
- Their education providers, who can offer academic guidance, counselling services, orientation programs and student clubs.
- Government agencies, who can provide information, advice and referral services on issues such as health, welfare, legal, financial, accommodation and employment.
- Community organisations, who can offer social, cultural and religious activities, events and networks for international students.
- Peers, who can share experiences, insights and tips with international students.
Some of the services and resources available for international students in Australia are:
- The International Student Support Network (ISSN), which is a national network of organisations that provide information, advice and referral services to international students on issues such as health, welfare, legal, financial, accommodation and employment.
- The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO), which is an independent and impartial body that investigates complaints from international students about problems with their education providers.
- The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), which is a government agency that helps international students understand their rights and responsibilities as workers in Australia.
- The Study in Australia website, which is an official online portal that provides comprehensive information about studying and living in Australia for international students.
- The Stint website, which is an online platform that connects international students with other international students from all over Australia, as well as with employers who are looking for diverse talent.
How to Embrace Diversity and Participate in the International Student Community?
In addition to these formal sources of support, international students can also benefit from joining various informal networks and communities that can help them make friends, share experiences, learn new skills and have fun. For example:
- The International Student Associations (ISAs), which are student-run clubs or societies that represent the interests and needs of international students from specific countries or regions at their education institutions.
- The International Student Ambassadors (ISAs), which are current or former international students who volunteer to promote Australia as a study destination and to assist prospective and new international students with their transition to Australia.
- The International Student Festivals (ISFs), which are annual events that celebrate the cultural diversity of international students in Australia through various activities such as music, dance, food, art and sports.
By embracing diversity and participating in the international student community in Australia, international students can not only overcome the challenges they face but also enjoy the benefits and opportunities that studying in Australia offers. They can also contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of Australia and their home countries. As the Australian Human Rights Commission states: “This rich cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths. It is central to our national identity.”