Strategies for Educational Providers to Assist International Students in their First Year Experience

Transitioning to a new school is simply no walk in the park, and pursuing studies abroad presents bigger challenges — integrating into a different culture, familiarising with the locals and getting used to the weather. Students who are completely unfamiliar with the culture and community in Australia will take some time to adjust to the environment. Education institutions play a significant role in helping students adjust to their first year in Australia. Here are some strategies to help your students adapt to a new educational and residential environment.

Start with an Orientation

The first thing you need to do is to help your international students become familiar with the existing rules and regulations in your school. Set up an orientation and assemble your international students to give them a good glimpse of what it’s like to study and live in Australia. Prepare orientation kits with information about your institution; make sure to include academic information, retention rules and other details like events, school organisations and the contact information of concerned departments and offices. Ideally, you should also discuss relevant Australian laws and customs relevant to international students.

Identifying International Student Needs and Addressing Them

Determine what your international students need help with by giving venues for them to speak out. You can open up a suggestion box or hold group discussions together with your student affairs staff, asking students about their concerns or issues during their first weeks in Australia. This discussion can happen during the orientation where you can give a few minutes for a Q&A portion, letting students raise questions related to studying in your school and staying in Australia. Educational institutions can take care of first year international students by guiding them towards developing academic, social and cultural competencies to negotiate the challenge of culture shock. Additionally, consolidated suggestions from international students can help you formulate reforms and plans that will make your institution a little less foreign to your international students.

Giving students a proper orientation (and having a dialogue with them) can increase their engagement, but you also have to implement strategies that will give them a sense of belongingness in the community.

Bring Students Together for Collaboration

Do not isolate your international students from the crowd. If your students feel alienated, this will likely contribute to a decrease in their academic performance and their cooperation in reconciling tuition payment shortfalls. Hold activities such as school festivals to introduce international students to your staff, your domestic students, and the rest of the local community. You can even hold a celebration night where students can be recognised for their academic and extra-curricular achievements.

Your educational institution’s strategies should help students become graduates who are well-adjusted and equipped for the real world. By helping students in transition, educational providers can contribute significantly to students’ early learning and success.

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Cameron, Helen and Catherine Kirkman. “Managing culture shock for First Year International students entering Australian universities.” Nuts & Bolts FYHE, 2010. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Sidoryn, Tristana and Jo Slade. “To transition and beyond! Strategies to assist international students’ throughout their university experience.” ISANA Conference Proceeding Paper, 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2015