A university in Australia is taking steps to make sure that students from overseas get the best they can from their studies and also help them further their careers when they graduate.
Like universities around the world, the University of Queensland (UQ) welcomes students from many countries and this has become not only an important income stream but part of a wider trend in gaining experience abroad through study.
According to the management team of the University which is one of the world’s top 50 with 12,000 international students from 144 countries, a global reach in education, research and translation is important but with a rising number coming from Asian countries their specific needs should be taken into account.
Acting Provost professor Joanne Wright believes that it is important to make sure that students from overseas have not just a good experience but an unique one. She explained that with Australian Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in place with China, Korea and Japan, more students from these countries are looking to study in Australia but there can be a culture shock.
‘We strive to ensure the out student experience is unique and we are constantly investing in this and looking for ways to offer our students unique opportunities, for example through international mobility and industry engagement,’ she said.
Overall the number of international students in Australia hit a record high last year with more than half a million choosing to study in the country. Figures from the Education Department show there were 554,179 full time international students in 2016, an increase of more than 10% on the previous year.
The higher education sector had the largest share of Australia’s international students with 43% and of those the largest numbers came from China and India. The most recent international student survey found that 89% were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience in Australia.
‘There are real upsides in terms of the jobs that are created, the opportunities for Australian students to study alongside international students and to gain exposure to people from more than 200 different countries who are now studying in Australia,’ said Education Minister Simon Birmingham.
Wright believes that universities have to move with the times and be ready to welcome more students from the Asia Pacific region. She said that the FTAs facilitate trade and broader engagement between Australia and Asia, potentially creates new partnership opportunities and new career pathways for the University’s students.
‘Parents of international students make a substantial investment in international education, so it is extremely important that they get good value for their investment, and that the students have access to partnerships,’ she added.
She is also conscious of the fact that the University is competing with education providers from countries such as the United States, Canada and the UK to attract international students so quality education and a safe and welcoming environment is important.
‘The University expects to see more and more engagement in both the number and scope of agreements that the University enters into with these countries, and an increase in the number of students from these countries studying our undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes,’ Wright said.