International students’ views on sexual health: A qualitative study at an Australian university

Anneka Parker

The number of international students at Australian universities is rapidly increasing, and they contribute significantly to Australia’s economy. However, concerns have been raised for their health and wellbeing, and there is limited research relating to international students and sexual health.  We conducted individual semi-structured in-depth interviews with 13 international students at an Australian university, aiming to understand the views and experiences of participants with regard to sexual health and wellbeing. These interviews were analysed thematically. We found that participants had different understandings of sexual consent, and there was misinformation about the impact of reporting sexual misconduct on their privacy and visa status. Data was collected on cultural and familial taboos and on views about sex before marriage and same-sex relationships. Participants expressed that they received large amounts of information about sexual health, but often lacked the skills to navigate that information and access relevant support. These data, along with participants’ ideas for future support and education, are important for understanding the complex experiences of international students at Australian universities, and should be considered when implementing future sexual health education and support programs.


Anneka is a fourth year undergraduate medical student at the University of New South Wales and has many international student friends and colleagues. She has spent the last year researching the experiences of international students with regard to their views and experiences with sexual health services. 

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