The Australian government has backed renowned international education scholars in their research into best practises in international student engagement.
Ly Tran, Jill Blackmore, Danielle Hartridge, Helen Forbes-Mewett, Renata Aldana, and Diep Nguyen, in collaboration with Insider Guides, will work to identify enabling and inhibiting factors for international student support, as well as good and bad practises.
The project, which is supported by Australia's Department of Education, Skills and Employment, is one of a few that the government is funding to help implement the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030.
According to Ly Tran, the team has previously conducted extensive research on intercultural connectedness, work-integrated learning and employability, teaching and learning, mental health and well-being, and teaching and learning. “We have a broad understanding of the principles underpinning good support provision but in this new project, we are going to identify what actual good practices look like and develop much more nuances on how to foster optimal student experiences across a range of areas,” she explained.
The researchers will collect information from ELICOS, schools, VET providers, and higher education providers in the public and private sectors in Australia and overseas.
The group wants to hear from a variety of community organisations, professional organisations, government departments, state and territory governments, local councils, employers, ethnic organisations, youth associations, business councils, accomodation providers, and OSHC providers, Tran proceeded.
The money comes from the government's $10 million international education innovation fund, which included $300,000 to "develop a best practise guide for the sector on international student engagement," which was announced in February 2022.
“Catering for international students’ needs during crises, including war, geopolitical, health, financial and disaster crises, has emerged as a critical area of international student support that warrants more nuanced understandings so as to set the foundation for building good practices to support this cohort,” Tran explained.
According to current research, good support is inclusive and responsive to students' diverse needs, and empathy must be at the heart of any support programme. It must also "be context-situated and adaptable," according to Tran, so that it can respond to factors influencing the changing context, such as policy, cohorts, sectors, or emerging crises.
“Support services would be more effective if they capitalise on and provide opportunity for international students to co-design and enact agency in enhancing the support for themselves and their peers,” she added. “Our project is set out to expand our current knowledge and build the evidence base to develop appropriate support in this area.”