Maintaining sustainable growth in Australia’s international student numbers

Steve Nerlich1

1 Director of the International Research and Analysis Unit at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training

To sustain ongoing growth in student numbers within a highly-competitive global marketplace, Australia needs to ensure it continues to deliver the services and infrastructure that international students are looking for.

This presentation will incorporate coverage of:

  • Education quality indicators

These indicators come from Australia’s biennial International Student Survey, which captures responses from over 50,000 international students studying across all of Australia’s education sectors (higher education, vocational education and training, schools and English language studies). The presentation will include preliminary data from Australia’s latest survey conducted in 2016 and compare these findings with previous years and with International Student Barometer indicators which show how student satisfaction in Australia compares with other countries. Australia is also investigating options to establish ongoing tracking of the employment outcomes of international students after they graduate and leave Australia.

  • Student accommodation

A recent census of student accommodation options indicated that approximately 40% of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) places available in Australia are used by international students, although this still only represents around 13% of all international higher education students in Australia. Also, findings from the International Student Survey indicate a high level of satisfaction with the quality of the accommodation options available in Australia.

  • Employment

International students (in Australia and elsewhere) are increasingly seeking opportunities to gain work experience and/or paid employment while studying and after graduation. A recent survey of international student employment in Australia found that high proportions of students do gain paid or unpaid employment in Australia, including many who choose volunteering roles to enhance their employability skills. Data on uptake of post-study work visas in Australia show that interest in pursuing post-study work options after graduation is also strong.


Steve Nerlich is the Director of the International Research and Analysis Unit at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Steve is based in Canberra and is also a current PhD candidate at the Australian National University investigating Australian students’ offshore mobility trends.

Social impact assessment: integrating international students into local communities

Phil Honeywood1, Rachael Shanahan2

1 CEO, International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), PO Box 12917, 8006, VIC,
2 Director, Study NT, Northern Territory Department of Education, Australia,

How can the principles of social impact assessment (SIA) improve the studying, living and working experiences of international students and at the same time have a positive impact on the local community? Just like a change management process, communication is key with tailor made messages for each audience. Australian macro policy settings on employability skills and safe, affordable accommodation services provision will be discussed as they can be applied at the local community level.  Case studies from the study destination cities of Winnipeg, Canada; Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin, Australia will then be highlighted to show how social impact assessment principles have been integrated with local businesses, accommodation providers and multicultural communities so they are genuinely engaged and can see the benefits of engaging with international students.


Phil Honeywood is a former Minister for Higher education, Skills and Multicultural Affairs in the Victorian Government. Since retiring from politics in 2006, he has held a number of senior positions in international education. In addition to his role with IEAA, he serves on the New Colombo Plan Reference Committee, the Education Visa Consultative Committee and has Chaired the Coordinating Committee which drafted the proposed National Strategy for International Education. He has just been reappointed to the Higher Education Standards Panel.

Get your ducks in a row – Bridging the gaps in health and safety for study abroad programmes

Ashley Mountfort, ATC1, Rachel Helwig2
1 Resident Director, BCA Study Abroad, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
2 Assistant Director, Health & Safety and Program Services, BCA Study Abroad, Pennsylvania, USA

As opportunities for studying abroad increase, so do the possibilities of unforeseen incidents. Past incidents resulted in liable consequences. Many of those incidents were unnecessary and could have likely been prevented through applying risk management strategies. Reported incidents followed by liable consequences included a University of Washington trip to Ghana, St Mary’s College trip to Guatemala, the National Outdoor Leadership School in the Himalayas, Paneno v Centres for Academic Programmes Abroad, Ltd and King, et. al. v Eastern Michigan University (1,2,3). Unique cases such as Orson D Munn III et. al. v The Hotchkiss School serve as reminders of rare, yet still possible incidents that may occur and potentially threaten a study abroad programme (4). While these types of events have encouraged education and travel providers to improve safety reviews in the planning process, it is important we are careful not to cross boundaries of professionalism and discrimination at the same time. Clitheroe Royal Grammar School’s refusal to take a diabetic student on an overseas trip is one example case (5). Bird v Lewis & Clark College also reviews similar factors (3). All of these cases place emphasis on knowledge as a powerful tool in enforcing health and safety within international education efficiently and competently. Lack of knowledge from a leadership standpoint is not a valid defence (6). Hence, it is important that we as educators, authority figures, supporters and leaders continue to learn about new evidence and risk assessment strategies that arise in international education. In response to recent legislative changes in health and safety practices around the globe, it is essential that we understand and develop strategies for adhering to such guidelines in order to build and maintain security and stability for our roles and programmes. With that said, we can review various case studies as mentioned above and apply key factors that share significant points across the board, regardless of the country of origin or programme. It is equally important to emphasise legislation and institutional guidelines for identifying and managing risks. Additionally, we can make use of such resources available through numerous institutions and government agencies to guide decisions. As a result of this careful planning, we are then more equipped for handling worst-case scenarios while leading best-case experiences abroad.

Keywords: Health, safety, risk management, international, education


  1. DIAZ-DURAN, C. (2010, May 13). 7 Student Travel Nightmares. The Daily Beast
  2. Hanners, D. (2013, October 23). Minnetonka mom sues trekking company in college son’s fatal fall. Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Intelligence on higher education.
  3. Hoye, W. P. (2006, February 18). LEGAL ISSUES INFLUENCING INTERNATIONAL STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS [Case Study]. Retrieved from
  4. Ruskin, W. A. (2013, April 5). [Student Bitten By Tick: Hotchkiss School On Hook For $41.75 Million]. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from Gordon & Rees’s Environmental and Toxic Tort Defense Insight website:
  5. BBC News. (2000, October 19). School sued over diabetic ban. BBC News, Education.
  6. Lin, T. (2015, October 30). Getting head around health & safety reforms a must for SMEs., BusinessDay.


Ashley Mountfort is the Resident Director for the BCA Study Abroad programme at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. She was trained as a Certified Athletic Trainer in the USA before moving to New Zealand. As a study abroad alum, she carries the passion of promoting international education opportunities. Within her training and as a response to New Zealand legislation, she has co-led several sessions in health and safety for her roles in international education and youth work.

International students’ mental health – an explorative study

Paul Lister1

1 Ministry of Education, P.O Box 1666, Wellington 6011

The health and well-being of international students in New Zealand is paramount to their academic success as well as their study and living experience in New Zealand. It is a government priority to ensure international students are adequately supported while studying here. This explorative study looks at the mental health needs and associated challenges faced by international students in New Zealand and how they are experienced by those supporting them. It is a collaborative project between the New Zealand Ministry of Education and ISANA New Zealand.  The project was conceived to investigate anecdotal stories about increasing stress and mental health challenges amongst international students. The Ministry of Education will present the findings from a small survey sent to members of ISANA New Zealand in May this year and information gathered from health insurance providers. These findings will be discussed along with possible implications on policy and practice for government agencies which work in international education, education providers, and other community and local authority groups with an interest in the well-being of international students.


Sexuality and sexual health education for Asian international high school students in New Zealand homestay environments

Lien Trinh1

1 PhD Candidate, University of Otago College of Education

Among approximately 16,000 international students enrolled yearly in New Zealand schools (since 2009), the vast majority are secondary students. Asian students are the largest source of international students compared to those coming from other continents.  Despite the sheer volume of Asian students in the New Zealand school system, there is an apparent lack of attention to their sexuality and sexual health in policy and literature. In this presentation I discuss my ongoing doctoral research examining whether discussion about sexual health takes place between homestay parents and international high school students in New Zealand. The study examines the students’ awareness, attitudes and practices in relation to sexual health, and identifies factors that shape their access to sexual health information in their homestay environments. It also explores school policies, guidelines and practices in this area.  In this presentation I discuss my preliminary findings from interviews with Asian international students, homestay parents and school staff. I begin the presentation by discussing the presence of Asian international students in New Zealand high schools and explaining the study’s rationale. Then, I draw on childhood studies and discourse analytic approaches to discuss the power relations and subject positions that emerged in my interview data, revealing factors that may enable or constrain student and homestay parent communication about sex and sexual health. I discuss participants’ perspectives on school and homestay families’ responsibilities in relation to sexuality education for international high school students, concluding with some suggested implications for policy and practice in New Zealand high schools.


Lien Trinh is currently a PhD student at the University of Otago College of Education.  She previously completed her Master in Public Health (MPH) through the University of Otago, and MA in Communications through University of Hawaii (USA, Fulbright Scholar).  Her MPH thesis focused on abortions amongst Asian women in New Zealand.  Her MA thesis focused on sexual health communications amongst among men-who-have-sex-with-men in Vietnam.  Lien has worked as a research assistant at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine (University of Otago), consultant at United Nations Population Funds (New York USA), and HIV/AIDS Project Manager for DKT International Vietnam.

International students information seeking behaviour: Implications for International education

Catherine Gomes1, Shanton Chang1

1University of Melbourne

This paper presents the latest research on international students’ information seeking behaviour which we have presented at previous ISANA conferences.

Our presentation follows from initial research funded by Universities Australia in 2011. The latest findings look at international students’ sources for information on international services and everyday living. It also highlights the social networks of international students. The results have implications for student services and alumni relations. This session thus builds on our initial results from the 2011 research and now includes focus groups, interviews and a national survey of more than 6500 international students across Australia in different sectors.

Factors determining the success of international student feedback tools

Thomson Ch’ng1Wanamina Waehama2

Vice-President  for  ASEAN  Youth  Organization
Instructor at Dusit Thani Colege Bangkok Thailand

The study entails analysis of the feedback tools used by academic institutions and providers in improving satisfaction levels among international students. Feedback tools such as satisfaction surveys carried out by institutions are necessary since they are key to understanding the issues that affect international students and lead to policies on how to consistently enhance adjustment of international students in varied institutions. Universities and the stakeholders involved in the provision of education across Australia need to utilize the various feedback tools available to ensure the voices and feedback of students are translated into corrective actions that in turn improve students’ experiences when they are at the institutions. Students’ satisfaction with teaching and the learning environment is among the factors that continue to be major concerns in many educational institutions across Australia. It is, therefore, important for institutions and providers to innovatively come up with better ways to improve satisfaction.

The purpose of the research is to identify ways in which feedback tools used by institutions and education providers are key to enhancing international students’ experience. The study analyses how education institutions can use satisfaction surveys from student organizations and professional organizations as feedback tools to determine the level of students’ satisfaction. The survey relied on cross-sectorial samples from the higher education sectors, occupational education, and training as well as English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS). Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected from student organizations and research papers. The findings highlight how applicable feedback tools are in helping higher learning institutions fulfill the needs and expectations of international students.

Keywords: Student feedback tools, Australian Universities, Student experience,


Nana Wanamina is a doctoral student from the Victoria University, Australia. While at the Victoria University, Nana held various leadership positions including being the President of VU International Student Association, a Vice President of Enactus Victoria University that she held from November 2013 to November 2014. She was also at one point the Vice President of Education of VU Postgraduates Association and between November 2014 and February 2015. She was also the Activities Director of the Victoria University Postgraduates Association.

She was also a finalist in the Victoria International Education Awards that were held in 2015 at Melbourne University. She was also among the top four students who were awarded the VUPA Outstanding Contribution to Postgraduate Life Award in 2015. She was recognized for her excellent role as the International Student Association’s President for growing the organization by
300 students just in a year. This accolade was also in recognition of her role in assisting VUPA
students in having the better student experience while at the University.

As a research student, her commitment to research saw her being the Organizer of Higher Education by Research Conference 2015 held at the College of Business. Nana did not stop at that. From July 2015 to date, Nana has been in the Committee for 2015 Research Experience Questionnaire and Focus Group Project at the College of Business. She also acquired extensive managerial skills when between 2011 and 2012; she worked as the Project Manager at Broadway Digital Media. While holding this position, she carried out duties like supervision of customer support team, handling of customer feedback and tracking and compilation of customer feedback report.

Nana is currently an Instructor at Dusit Thani Colege Bangkok Thailand. Here, she taught strategic management, organizational management and leadership.

Nana was also a President of the ASEAN Youth Organization Australia Team in 2015. These leadership positions, experiences, and exposures enriched to a great extent her background and knowledge in international leadership. Her background in international leadership is thus outstanding going by the leadership position she has held and continues to hold in various institutions. During her stint has the Student leader at the Victoria University, for instance, Nana exhibited and was also able to further enhance her team building, communication, interpersonal and leadership skills through the numerous workshops and conferences she attended.

Thomson Ch’ng is a Master of Science (Project Management) graduate of Curtin University Sydney. He is a founding delegate and the Immediate Past President for the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), the national peak representative organisation for all international students in Australia. In his capacity with the council, Thomson has worked with various stakeholders, including to advocate for the needs and interest of his peers and constituency, ensuring a unified voice for all. Originally from Penang in Malaysia,

His commitment to community work and helping international students has resulted in him
winning the 2011 MASCA Testimonial Australia’s Gold Award.

Subsequently in 2013, Thomson won the NSW Premier’s International Student of the Year Award.

Thomson is currently the Vice-President for ASEAN Youth Organization, a leading youth organization representing young people in the Southeast Asia region. In July 2016, Thomson was selected by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to represent Malaysia and ASEAN at the forum.

International students’ perceptions of the learning environment and support services at a New Zealand university

Anil Kumar Kaushik1, 3, Terry McGrath2, 3

1Doctoral Student, Institute of Education, Massey University, New Zealand
2Senior Consultant , International Student Ministries of New Zealand
3International Post Graduate and Mature Students’ Club, Massey University, New Zealand

During the last ten years increasing attention has been given to reducing costs in universities and enhancing financial returns. This attention places demands on support services tasked with providing support for international students and with increasing the revenue stream from international education. Increased diversity of cultures, nationalities and education backgrounds stemming from  an  international  student  body of  size  and  substance  places demands for enhanced support services both in terms of academic and living support. Several questions come to mind: How well do universities provide good levels of support to international students and how do international students perceive the teaching-learning environment of the university and availability and quality of support services? This paper reports findings from interviews of selected international students at one university, Massey University in New Zealand. The purpose of these interviews was twofold: To evaluate the teaching-learning  environment  of  the  university  and  to  examine  the  quality  of  support services available to the international students. The findings revealed many differences between the expected and the perceived learning environments and support services. These differences suggest opportunities exist for some improvements in academic support to international students. In relation  to the life, social and community support available to students, the majority of students reported positively and appeared satisfied with the services. The majority of students admired the International Student Support Office (ISSO) staff and reported that staff went the extra mile to support them. The findings suggested a need to acknowledge  the  differences  between  the  previous  teaching-learning  environments  of students in their home countries and the current New Zealand educational system and act accordingly to ensure a smooth transition to the foreign system of education. Findings also suggested there was room to consider adding other dimensions to the support services to enhance international students’ adjustment in the educational and vocational system of New Zealand and ensure an intentionally quality fit and compliance with the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

Key Words: Pastoral care, learning & teaching, support services.


Anil Kaushik has a background in education in India and is currently completing his PhD at Massey University in Education. A lively interest in the experiences of international students in the Education environment has led to an interest in researching and commenting about those experiences. Anil has served on the executive of the international postgraduate and mature students club one of the largest clubs in the university and in that role has had extensive involvement with a wide range of international students.

What do ‘good teaching’ and ‘effective learning’ look like at university? Insights from international (and other) students

Vivienne Anderson1, Ana Rangi2, Esmay Eteuati2, Rob Wass1, Clinton Golding1, Rafaela Rabello1

1 Higher Education Development Centre, PO Box 56, University of Otago, 65-75 Union Place West, Dunedin, New Zealand
2 Humanities Divisional Office, PO Box 56, University of Otago, Whare Kete Aronui – Arts Building, 95 Albany Street, Dunedin

Literature and public discourse on teaching and learning in university contexts has often reflected a view of international students as necessarily different to so-called ‘local’ students. However, increasingly, critical scholars are calling for university teaching (and research about teaching) that is responsive to students’ actual voices, and not grounded in culturalist assumptions about their sameness, difference or learning styles. This paper reports on the preliminary findings of an ongoing pilot project aimed at foregrounding diverse students’ conceptions of ‘good teaching’ and ‘effective learning’ in university contexts. Our study involves up to 40 high achieving ‘international’, ‘local’, Māori, and Pacific Island students (7-10 students from each cohort) at a New Zealand university. Specifically, we use focus group interviews, critical incident technique, and ‘photovoice’ to explore four research questions: (1) how do students conceptualise ‘good teaching’ and ‘effective learning’ at university; (2) which data collection approaches do they prefer; (3) which elicit the richest insights into students’ conceptions; and (4) how can students’ conceptions inform research, support provision, and staff development? The study’s rationale is multifaceted. Theoretically, the study is a response to calls for researchers and university teachers to remain open to both commonalities and differences between students. Practically, our study is intended to build a staff network spanning the university’s international, Māori, Pacific, and academic development portfolios, as a basis for ongoing collaboration and more comprehensive staff development and student support approaches. Also, our aim is to foreground student success; participating students form a kind of ‘advisory panel’, and receive recognition for this at the project’s conclusion. Methodologically, our study is piloting ways of eliciting students’ tacit knowledge concerning ‘good teaching’ and ‘effective learning’ in (and in relation to) university lectures and tutorials in the Humanities Division, as a basis for a future, larger study. The paper is structured as follows. We begin by outlining the study’s rationale, theoretical framework and methodology. Then, we share some preliminary findings from our international student cohort, comparing their conceptions of ‘good teaching’ and ‘effective learning’ with those articulated by the other students involved in the study. We conclude by highlighting our ‘next steps’ in terms of both the study and our use of its findings.


Dr Vivienne Anderson is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago Higher Education Development Centre. She works with staff and students across the university in an academic development role, and researches questions relating to higher education policy and practice.

Understanding the educational impact of International students in U.S. campus internationalization

Gayle A. Woodruff1, Barbara J. Kappler2

1 University of Minnesota, 230 Heller Hall, 271-19th Ave S, Minnapolis MN 55455 USA
2 University of Minnesota, 190 Humphrey, 301-19th Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55455 USA

Unlike other countries, little research in the U.S. has focused on the educational impact that international students have in campus internationalization. Much focus has been on the challenges that international students face and the institutional structures needed to support those challenges. Our research premise is that international students add value to our campus. In our previous research (Yefanova, Woodruff, Kappler, & Johnstone, 2014), we examined focus group and interview responses from university instructors and students regarding the potential benefits of cross-national interactions by exploring the learning outcomes of both international and domestic students when they interact in the classroom in structured ways. One of our findings pointed to the importance of instructors shifting course design and pedagogical strategies in order to enhance learning for all students – domestic and international. For the second phase of our two-year research project we followed three instructors into the classroom to better understand their teaching philosophies and practices that included cross-national interaction.

Our paper explores the strategies that academic teaching staff and instructors use to facilitate cross-national interaction in the classroom, and the intentionality needed to design learning outcomes and teaching strategies that engage all students in the classroom.  We build upon foundational writing that highlights the importance of pedagogical aspects of curriculum internationalization (Leask, 2009), and the value that international students have in the learning environment (Mestenhauser, 2011, Lee et al, 2014).  We turn to Australian models of teaching and learning (Arkoudis et al 2010, Biggs 2006, and Sanderson 2006) to provide a framework for understanding the educational environment in our classrooms where students can learn from each other.

Our paper concludes with the challenges faced by instructors who desire to internationalize their classrooms by increasing cross-national interactions between students, and we recommend strategies for instructors to consider in designing their class content and pedagogical methods.


Gayle A. Woodruff is the founding director of curriculum and campus internationalization, University of Minnesota. She provides leadership for initiatives aimed at faculty development, campus internationalization, and the evaluation and assessment of internationalization. Previously she directed Minnesota’s study abroad curriculum integration initiative. Gayle has published on numerous topics in international education, served as the faculty mentor for the Minnesota Studies in International Development program to Ecuador, and is the recipient of the University of Minnesota’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.
Gayle served as the chair for the Teaching, Learning, & Scholarship Knowledge Community of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D., is the Assistant Dean of International Student & Scholar Services in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance. Barbara holds a B.A. in both Economics and Communication and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Speech Communication. She has 25 years of experience in intercultural communication, program management, teaching, and research. Barbara is also a member of the Graduate Faculty and serves on graduate committees in the department of with the College of Education and Human Development.

Dr. Kappler previously served as Associate Director of ISSS and was responsible for Intercultural Training and Programs, including intercultural communication training. Barbara is co-author of three guides for students, staff, and language instructors on “Maximizing Study Abroad,” as well as a book on communication styles. Her career at the University has been an exciting blend of program and leadership experiences, curriculum development, international communication research, teaching, and working with international students.