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New Zealand firm launches student wellbeing app

A new app for international student welfare has been developed in New Zealand that can establish an immediate connection, like an SOS function with GPS, for international students with their provider and provide assurance around student welfare when overseas.

HappE is the new app from EESL, which is based in Auckland with offices in India and Sri Lanka

"They felt distant and unable to express their feelings"

The app and web interface is to help providers connect with and maintain the wellbeing of their international students.

HappE, developed by Auckland-based tech-company EESL, serves as a front facing mobile app for international students to find information on their institution and study destination, and contact their provider’s student services team if needed.

Through a backend management system, institutions can use surveys and notifications to gauge the wellbeing of their students and track compliance under the pastoral care code for international students.

“The idea for HappE came from our own internal processes working with international students,” EESL’s chief executive, Bruce Gadd said.

“We saw how hard it was for them to get access to information, share information with the international team and integrate into the community. They felt distant and unable to express their feelings.”

The biggest challenge was “changing the culture around obtaining information”

Student services teams also expressed similar difficulties in connecting with and managing their international student cohort, as well as keeping on top of reporting, he added.

In developing HappE, Gadd told The PIE News the biggest challenge was not building the app but “changing the culture around obtaining information.”

“We don’t want to look at it as ‘surveys’… students can complete answers with video and audio responses, as well as having more functional buttons and tick box mechanisms to remove the mundane ideal associated with a ‘survey’.”

He added working with institutions to help them develop their own engagement strategies would also improve communication with international students.

The app has so far been well received by the New Zealand industry.

“We have received encouraging support from the various stakeholders in the student wellbeing initiative from the New Zealand government and HappE fits perfectly within the draft International Student Wellbeing Strategy drawn by them”, said Edwin Paul, COO at EESL.

New Zealand is currently developing a new international education strategy which is expected to be released later this year.

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