The Important Reformation of Education Agency in Improving International Student Wellbeing

Ms Iris Tsien1

1JLL Overseas Education,

In 2017, over 700,000 international students enrolled in Australian institutions. Among this cohort, over 200,000 students are Chinese. Chinese students rely on their parents and education agents to make decisions on the programs they are studying in Australia, as they are accustomed to depending on others rather than think independently to decide their road of the future. Although there are numerous existing education agents in the industry, many of them are lack of knowledge, experience and professional training, which result in misleading advice for students and negative effects on student wellbeing, including depression and stress due to the huge difference between expectation and reality, the poor knowledge of the course and the language barriers. There are three main points that every education agency should ponder and refine: Firstly, what is the way to incorporate student wellbeing at the start of education counselling. Secondly, what professional knowledge that student counsellors should have to ensure students’ wellbeing. Thirdly, what possible resolutions can be offered by the education agency when confronting any factors that could negatively impact student wellbeing during their study. The improved student wellbeing will assist them to explore themselves and eventually make all students truly enjoy their study in Australia.


Ms Iris Tsien is the Managing Director of JJL Overseas Education (Australia). Over ten years, she devotes herself to improve international students’ wellbeing, safety, employment and help educational constitutions develop diversity in recruitment.

Cognitive Processing Course: A Student-Faculty Collaborative Program for At-Risk Students

Dr Andrea Vaughans1

1American University of Antigua, Coolidge, Antigua ,

The Education Enhancement Department at the American University of Antigua (AUA), College of Medicine, has endeavored to support at-risk students in successfully completing the Basic Science component of medical education. It was evident that the transition from year one to year two contributed significantly to the attrition rate. Upon further investigation, two key factors evolved. Firstly, the year two content demanded more integration, within disciplines and across systems, than students had previously been exposed to. Secondly, students found it difficult to understand the language of the examinations. AUA accepts students from over forty countries. Students whose native language is not English seemed to especially struggle with the latter point. An initiative was undertaken to answer the question: How would the collaboration of structured learning strategies and student-led integrative reviews affect student performance? A fourteen-week, four-pillar program was created consisting of: Identification of individual learning techniques, Organization of knowledge, Time management, and Retrieval of knowledge. All students repeating semester three were mandated to participate. Each session was facilitated by faculty but lead by students. Students further received individualized advice from faculty in congruence with the Self-Regulated Learning Strategies. Exam scores from pre-course and post-course were obtained and compared. 100% of the students showed improvement, ranging from an overall increase in score of 6.27% to 23.80%. The average student improvement was 14%. Preliminary results suggest a positive correlation between the implementation of structured learning strategies paired with student-led reviews and student success, despite their native language.  A similar program is being implemented to assist students taking their final United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This presentation will illustrate the tools and strategies utilized to create this collaborative program. Participants can expect to gain ideas that may be replicable in various institutions.


Dr. Vaughans is a native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who received her medical degree from St. Georges University. As an SGU Global scholar, she was afforded the opportunity to train in Grenada, United Kingdom, and the United States. Upon graduating she worked at her alma mater then practiced General Medicine in Trinidad and Tobago. She is presently an Assistant Professor at the American University of Antigua with responsibilities including coordinating the Endocrine and Reproductive System, directing the Cognitive Processing Course Program as well as the Comprehensive Basic Science Examination / STEP 1 Prep Course Program. She has a passion for both clinical and academic medicine, hence, she works extensively with struggling students. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling and spending time with her family.

Enhancing Student Experience through PDS – Student Visa Application Process in Campus

Catherine Guo1

1Victoria University of Wellington, , New Zealand

Provider Direct of Students (PDS) is an online Immigration New Zealand service that allows education providers to process student visa renewals on campus in New Zealand. Victoria University of Wellington is one of this programme’s partners. This presentation will cover three aspects.

Firstly, it will provide an overview of the programme’s mechanism and its requirements for the university and international students. How the university allocates its resource to operate the programme will also be covered, as well as, the detailed conditions for international students to use the PDS service.

Secondly, to apply for a new student visa using PDS, students normally need to ensure that they have met its requirements – we refer to this as the “confirmation process”. During the confirmation process, three important elements will be determined, namely, academic progress, financial requirement and full-time study status. Each of these conditions will be discussed in detail, and how pastoral care is provided by the university during this process.

Thirdly, this presentation will determine the importance of the pastoral care in the PDS programme operation, and further conclude that the both PDS and the pastoral care are playing important roles in enhancing student experience in international education in Victoria University of Wellington, and in New Zealand

Starting a New Page – Adopting a Healthy Living Style in the New Living Environment

Mr Wun Kwan Chan1

1Borderlands Cooperative, Hawthorn , Australia

Numbers of international students in Australia have increased greatly in recent years. It is not an easy journey for them to start a new life in the new environment. They could be vulnerable in the process, but it is also a great opportunity for their personal growth. This workshop aims to address their struggles and acknowledge the fact that it is difficult to look after their mental health wellbeing independently during their stay. The workshop will firstly discuss and normalise the challenges international students will face, letting them know they are not alone and there are supports around them. The workshop will then explore the risk and potential harm of some coping strategies, such as gaming and gambling addiction, drinking, smoking, etc. Knowing the risks can help in developing responsible behaviours and comparing with some healthy coping strategies for international students. It could stimulate them to think of healthy living ways for themselves. The final part of the workshop is aimed to assist international students in building the awareness for available services supporting mental health. To encourage them in seeking help at the open Australian cultural environment and reduce the stigma that they may have regards to mental health wellbeing.


Kevin is a former international student who studied in Australia for 7 years and graduated with the Master of Counselling in mid-2018. He has experience in working for 4 years as an international student host in a foundation study, supporting new students from different cultures. He recently worked as an international student counsellor in a college in Melbourne. He works to improve mental health and well-being and creates awareness among international students in Australia. Currently he runs a gambling awareness project with the Borderlands Cooperative, ECCV and ISANA to support the community in educating about risks and harm associated with gambling.

Coordinating Committees: from the 1950s to the 1990s – the origins of international student support and community engagement

Ms Anna Kent1

1Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Australia

The provision of international student support in 2019 is vastly different from what it was when international (overseas) students first appeared in large numbers on Australian campuses in the 1950s. At that time community organisations, businesses and the government cooperated to provide support to students in Australia, with less support being offered formally through universities and colleges. These Coordinating Committees survived for decades, into the 1990s. It could be argued that these Coordinating Committees facilitated a community engagement in international education that has been not continued as the number of students has multiplied.

Using archival and other primary source documents, this paper will look at the beginnings of the Australian Organisations’ Coordinating Committee for Overseas Students, and other similar organisations. It will analyse how the Committee’s changed over the decades of their existence, and what role they played in influencing government policies.

The paper will also investigate when and why these Committees ended, and what, if anything, has taken their place. The huge expansion of the international education sector, with more than half a million students now studying in Australia as international students, has impacted the quantity and quality of engagement with the Australian community for many of these students.

Finally, the paper will look at efforts to engage the community in the support of, and engagement with, international students in Australia in a more contemporary setting. This includes support provided by institutions, community and sporting organisations and state government and municipal councils.


Anna Kent is a PhD student at Deakin University in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, researching the history of Australian government education aid to the Pacific. Her research interests include international education, international development and the intersections between foreign policy, international education and international development.

Anna has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Master of Arts (Development Studies) from the University of Melbourne.  Anna’s thesis, completed in the Development Studies Department, focused on the role of Australian government scholarships in development, education and diplomacy. Anna was the inaugural convener of the International Education Association of Australia’s Scholarships and Fellowships Network and is a member of the Australian Policy and History Network.

Anna’s work has been published in various fora, including a chapter in a book International Scholarships: Pathways to Social Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and on Australian Policy History Network and the Contemporary History Research Group blog.

A roadmap to a structured learning strategies curriculum for nursing students: Pitfalls & stepping stones

Dr Marsha Nicholson-Ramdeen1, Ms Lauren Orlando1, Dr Roxann Lewis-Roberts1

1St.George’s University, True Blue, Grenada

Located on the Caribbean island Grenada, St. George’s University (SGU) is a medical, veterinary and undergraduate University. In 2016, the School of Arts & Sciences introduced the Bachelor’s Degree in General Nursing. This three-year program prepares students for the Regional Examination for Nurse Registration (RENR) that allows licensure as a registered nurse in CARICOM member states. In the Caribbean, the transition to university life under a North American schooling system is challenging to students. The varied study styles, work intensity, structure and frequency of testing which is predominantly multiple choice questions is different from the conventional short and/or long answer question format. SGU places emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills from active learning. Realizing the disparity between educational models, a course that helps students learn and develop university skills was implemented. The Department of Educational Services (DES) is the student support center at SGU that consist of many divisions including the learning strategies unit (LSU). LSU assists students in the development of their individual learning styles making them better self-regulated learners. LSU embarked on the development of a Learning Strategies for the Nursing curriculum in conjunction with the faculty development program (FDP). This presentation seeks to provide tactical skills for strategist and educators to implement in their own programs for international students entering tetiary education. The FDP for this project focused on: planning your class for active learning, aligning learning outcomes with learning activities and assessment, approaches to teaching that enhance student approach to learning and assessment for learning.


Bio to come

Medical student support project – enabling our future doctors to thrive

Ms Catherine Fitzgerald1

1The University Of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

There is growing awareness that medical students experience unique and significant stressors throughout their program which have the potential to adversely affect their mental and physical health, as well as their academic progression. International medical students face these challenges and more, as they manage high-stakes registration exams, competitive residency programs and other issues, away from their usual supports. In 2018 the Faculty of Medicine and Student Services worked together to develop the Medical Student Support Strategy in response to student feedback and community concerns regarding doctor’s health and well-being. UQ is home to the largest medical school in Australia, and the Medical Student Support Strategy is a brand-new approach, providing comprehensive support systems and structures to a targeted cohort.  A central component of the Strategy has been the creation of the Medical Student Support Team (MSST), working out of Student Services, but embedded within the Faculty, the first arrangement of its kind at UQ. The MSST has been tasked with providing one-to-one well-being support to medical students, as well as broader preventative and educational support to staff and students within the Faculty to promote positive, widespread cultural and curriculum change.   International students have been the largest cohort to access the MSST, and since becoming operational in 2018 we have seen a marked increase in student satisfaction, as well as increased engagement with support services. This presentation will provide insight into what we have learnt so far, what has worked, and how challenges have been overcome in supporting such a diverse cohort.


Catherine has been a Student Advisor in the Medical Student Support team, UQ Student Services, since its inception in 2018. Prior to this she worked as an International Student Advisor in the same office, and has a background in crisis support and homelessness.

Student Orientation: With the students and for the students

Ms Mahin Mahjabeen1

1Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

This presentation will showcase how Flinders University has evolved and reshaped its international student orientation program adopting a “Just in Time” information dissemination model delivered through the first semester. The most significant innovation was using our international students as co-designers, advisors and partners in the design and delivery of some of the orientation activities and collaborating productively with other central units to deliver those activities more effectively. Continuing international students volunteered and contributed in the review of the orientation content, design and the delivery mode. This led to more student engagement in the organisation of orientation activities providing greater opportunities for continuing international students to engage in on-campus experiences. A unique series of tailored workshops addressing students’ time specific needs were developed in consultation with the students. This approach has been well received by commencing international students and simultaneously, empowered the continuing international students who felt valued and hence developed a sense of belonging to the institution. Student feedback has demonstrated that the program has helped them to connect with the international students, engage with the institution and utilise the support services available to them.


Mahin studied her Masters of Business Administration at the University of South Australia as an international student and was a recipient of the prestigious “Chancellor’s list” award. Being a previous international student, Mahin is well aware of the support that international students look for and need. Working at the university sector for more than fourteen years in different roles has broadened her knowledge and understanding of the administrative and legislative side of these needs. Mahin is currently working as an international student advisor at Flinders University. She is responsible for the overall coordination of the international student orientation. She is very dedicated in supporting international students and she is actively involved in various voluntary work supporting the international community.

Improving Student Experience outcomes across New Zealand through Research, Partnership and Digital Delivery

Ms Sahinde Pala1

1Education New Zealand, New Zealand

The success story of the international education industry in New Zealand is predicated on a positive student experience, as outlined in the International Education Strategy 2018 – 2030. Education New Zealand has taken a deep dive into understanding what drives a great student experience and translated those research findings into work programmes that respond to the needs identified. As a government agency one of our challenges is to deliver a government response that enhances successful student experience outcomes, including well-being and inclusion. A response that builds capability and capacity for students and staff across the entire education sector, and recognises the importance of collaboration and partnerships for successful delivery. In this session we will share what we have learned, and how a holistic, values-based focus is key to our strategy and delivery. We will share with you a digital solution that is designed to enhance the student experience, including well-being themes of social connection, mental well-being literacy and access to health support, as well as demonstrating how partnerships are key to optimising successful outcomes for students. We look forward to learning from you also.


Sahinde Pala is the Director, Student Experience and Global Citizens at Education New Zealand (ENZ).  During her time with ENZ Sahinde has worked on the development of both the International Student Wellbeing Strategy and the broader International Education Strategy for New Zealand, launched in 2018.  Throughout her time at ENZ she has been actively engaged in pan-sector collaboration – with educational institutions, peak bodies, regional agencies, community groups and student groups, most recently with a focus of embedding and improving student experience and global citizenship outcomes across the sector.  Prior to joining ENZ in 2016 Sahinde worked in a number of roles for a multinational group of English language schools.

Provider intervention strategies for students at risk of unsatisfactory course progress.

Ms Klara Major1

1Commonwealth Ombudsman, Australia

International students are required to maintain satisfactory course progress. If they don’t, education providers may need to cancel the student’s enrolment and report them to the Department of Home Affairs. Before reporting the student, the provider must give them an opportunity to get their progress back on track, via an intervention strategy. As the Overseas Students Ombudsman, we receive complaints from students after they have been through their provider’s intervention strategy process, and failed to turn their progress around. At that stage, they are on the verge of having their enrolment cancelled and being reported to the Department of Home Affairs. In this presentation, we take you through some complaint data, looking at the numbers of complaints received, and the proportion of complaints where we support the provider’s decision to cancel the student’s enrolment and report them for unsatisfactory course progress. Our experience is necessarily limited to the ‘failed’ intervention strategies, but during our detailed examination of provider actions, we have come across examples of education providers really responding to their students’ needs and attempting to support their learning. We outline some of the ‘tools’ we have observed in the intervention strategy arsenal, and look at other options allowed under the National Code which may be appropriate to support struggling students. We also look at the reasons that students have given for not meeting the demands of their courses, and some appropriate provider responses to those reasons.


Klara Major is the Stakeholder Engagement Officer of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Students team, which is responsible for the Overseas Students Ombudsman function.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman:

  • can investigate complaints about problems that intending, current or former overseas students have with private schools, colleges and universities (education providers) in Australia
  • provides information about best practice complaints handling to help private education providers manage internal complaints effectively
  • publishes reports on problems and broader issues in international education that we identify through investigations.

The Ombudsman’s Office has investigated more than 1,000 complaints from international students, giving them a unique insight into the problems that international students can face, and what can be done about them.


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education. For more information, please visit the ISANA website.

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