“[Cultural skills] cannot happen in a short period of time”
The Project Global Citizen Survey, whose pilot program received funding under Queensland’s IET Partnership Fund, seeks to optimise students’ experiences while in Australia by providing institutions with quantitative data of when and where problems occur.
“PGC is Queensland’s most extensive global survey to date for identifying cultural competency gaps of international students in relation to academic learning, social integration, securing internships, employment and safety,” said Shannon Willoughby, executive director of Study Queensland.
“Findings from the project will help international students, education agents, institutions, peak organisations and student support providers in improving the student experience.”
Craig Shim, co-founder of the PGC Consortium overseeing the project, said it was important to understand the gaps in resources for international students, adding initial research showed many experienced problems with mental health.
“We know that there’s a direct correlation between a lot of these challenges and their ability to transition into Australian culture,” he told The PIE News.
“Once we can quantify exactly what are the challenges and to what degree these challenges are experienced for international students, we’ll be able to develop programs that can better help them.”
According to Shim, many students needed to start preparing early to overcome difficulties such as finding a job, which they often fail at due lack an understanding of the Australia context.
“That cannot happen in a short period of time, that’s something that you should really be developing those cultural skills ahead of time,” he said.
The findings of the survey will be shared with participating international education providers and members of ISANA, who will be able to use the information to develop their own programs.
Mental health and the student experience was the theme of the inaugural New Zealand International Students Association conference in September.