Special Interest Forums

A selection of Special Interest Forums (SIF) will be held on Friday 4th December 1310-1410 and Wednesday 9th December 1345-1445. These are think-tank discussion groups led by a central chair focused on specific areas of international education.

Providing employability programs in 2020 through innovative solutions

Student Employment, WIL & Greater Outcomes

It is widely recognised that a lack of work-readiness, combined with a mismatch between industry requirements and skills possessed by graduates, are major causes of youth unemployment worldwide. They have developed various frameworks to address these challenges, including work-integrated learning (WIL), an approach to training that integrates class-based instruction with on-the-job practice (University World News, 14 August 2020). International students rank graduate outcomes as an important consideration in their decisions on where and what they study.

COVID-19 represents enormous challenges for education providers worldwide; however, it is also a driver of innovation and pragmatic solutions.

Delegates are invited to discuss the challenges with continuing to manage WIL programs and enhance international students employability and career development through the COVID19 crisis. In particular, delegates are invited to discuss:

  • How education providers have moved WIL and career programs to online delivery and engaged students who have remained overseas during the year?
  • How are offshore programs being developed and delivered through this time?
  • What are the key improvements through this year that will be carried through into post-covid WIL and career development program delivery?

Managing compliance and governance in a changing education landscape

Directors & Office Managers, Compliance and Governance

The global pandemic has imposed challenges on the operations of education providers. For example, staff have had increased workloads in implementing additional support to students whilst working from home. At the same time, there have been concerns with reduced resources. Managing staff, compliance and governance during COVID-19 has required empathy, resilience, and innovation. This SIF is an opportunity for delegates to discuss strategies moving forward into 2021 where the education landscape will be different and the ways in which we have worked will change.

Supporting students and managing changes – working in an ambiguous and conflicting regulatory environment

Academic Progress Monitoring

Recent changes to the visa charges for international students providing for a fee waiver in certain conditions have had mixed reactions. Students may apply for a new student visa to extend their stay in Australia to complete that current course of study. This includes those who have deferred their current course of study, have been required to reduce to a part time study load or are unable to complete their work-based training/placements. Education Providers must indicate that they were unable to offer the course in the original time frame as intended either due to an inability to deliver the course or parts of the course. The fee waiver is not intended to cover scenarios where the student has voluntarily chosen to reduce to part time study, withdrew from studying or fails courses.

These qualifications to the fee waiver mean that academic support and progress monitoring are critical. In this SIF, delegates are invited to discuss the strategies that they have adopted to proactively reach out and support students.

Strategies for supporting Under 18 students through 2020 and beyond

Under 18 Students

It has been two years since the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 and the changes to Standard 5-Younger Overseas Students, was implemented. Since then, providers have developed a range of strategies to meet the welfare arrangement responsibilities. COVID-19 has imposed its unique challenges for U18 international students, many of whom have had their studies interrupted in a critical year of study.

Interested delegates are invited to discuss and share strategies that have been adopted to support the expectations of students, staff and stakeholders during COVID including online activities ,Under 18 student compliance ,social inclusion and welfare arrangements during Holiday periods and course progression.

Innovative solutions for supporting students living in isolation and studying online

Student Accommodation

The global pandemic has meant that in most cases, international students have spent more time in purpose-built student accommodation (commercial and provider-owned), homestays, and private rental than at their education provider. This has imposed challenges as well as opportunities in how we engage and support students in isolation lockdowns, online study and social engagement.
In this SIF, delegates are invited to share the innovative strategies, and collaborations that they have adopted to support students living in various student accommodation.

Strategies for supporting first year students through online study and isolation

Transition to Study & First year experience

The transition to study and the first year of experience in Australia are important milestones for international students. 2020 began as a normal year with orientation and support programs in place. The year quickly changed with most international travellers barred from entering Australia in March 2020. The challenges for many this year have been on how students can be supported through this important phase in their lives whilst being isolated and studying online.

Interested delegates are invited to discuss and share the innovative strategies that have been developed to support students in their first-year experience. We also invite delegates to explore the challenges ahead and opportunities that arise from them.

Solutions for student engagement and wellbeing – retention, successful partnerships and strategies

Student Advisory Services

Student advisers have played a greater role in supporting students this year with staff adopting strategies to proactively engage and reach out to students. An important role played by student advisory staff has been in the retention of students. This has been particularly critical this year. Students have faced multiple challenges, and many have struggled with their mental wellbeing, studies and personal finances. The data indicates that student deferrals and request for leave have increased this year.
Student advisory staff are invited to share in this SIF, the strategies and partnerships that they have adopted to support students’ mental wellbeing and personal circumstances impacted by the global pandemic.

Study abroad and exchange programs – Innovative solutions to managing the ambiguity and expectations in 2020 and beyond

Study Abroad & Exchange, Sponsored Students

International agreements and scholarships can have stringent requirements that impact on both the student and the institution where they choose to study. The global pandemic has placed restrictions on student mobility, the transfer of scholarship funds and the progress and completion of studies.
In this SIF, delegates are invited to share information on the following:
● How have you managed short term student mobility where students have been unable to return home?
● How have partnership agreements been managed, where expectations of sponsors have imposed additional actions?
● How have short term programs been adapted in a ‘no travel’ environment?
● What initiatives have been developed by providers and partners to enable and broaden the participation in study abroad experiences during this critical period?

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