Connecting with community – fostering favourable engagement with families of international students!

Ms Emily Tzu-Ping Ou1, Ms Semra Tastan1

1UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Universities are based on a model of engaging students as adults, individuals, independent learners and decision makers however in practice students exist and function within multiple systems. When working with international students within the University setting, there can be some or little consideration given to the student’s culture, family, existing supports and resources in their home country. However these systems include friends, families and community supports remain vital to students’ well-being and academic success yet remain physically absent. Working within student support services and with critical incident cases involving international students, the value of engaging family and community members has been highlighted. In the majority of cases it has led to improved outcomes for students and the university. The objective of this presentation is to present case studies from UNSW Sydney to identify key issues, challenges, limitations and approaches in connecting and engaging families. Through these case studies we will also highlight best practice examples.


Emily Tzu-Ping Ou is currently international student advisor at UNSW. Previously worked at Government of South Australia as senior social worker. Emily is a trained social worker both in Taiwan and Australia and has extensive experiences working with CALD population. Emily is passionate about cross-cultural social work and how this can support her works with international students.

Semra Tastan joined UNSW International Student Experience Unit in March 2017, having previously worked in student participation and engagement at UNSW Sydney and Macquarie University. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the University of Sydney and passionate about supporting the participation and success of international students.

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