WHAT is the local government doing to support the large international student community living and studying in the City of Melbourne? Jordan Thompson outlines the key points you need to know in the recently released International Student Strategy Draft 2013-17.
If you live and study in Melbourne, chances are you’ve heard of the City of Melbourne. For those who are unaware, they are the local government (or more commonly known as “council”) responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the city.
The council’s activities and services are diverse and extensive, from the maintenance of significant infrastructure to providing a range of services and enforcing local laws.
This includes how they care for international students, considering the international student community makes up more than half of the students living and studying in Melbourne.
Most recently, they have come up with a draft strategy outlining their goals for improving international student experience and transforming Melbourne into an “unparalleled Australian destination of choice” for overseas education.
It promises to be a landmark strategy for the local international education sector.
What you should know about the stategy
You can read the original document by downloading the International Student Strategy Draft 2013-17 , but in a nutshell, the overall focus of the draft strategy is on strengthening international ties to the city by growing Melbourne’s reputation as an education provider, a safe and affordable destination and a culturally welcoming community.
Many of the proposals outlined in the strategy are focused on continuing programs which have proven to assist international students and furthering research and understanding in areas where support may be needed. To achieve these outcomes, the documents put forward five strategic goals.
Goal 1: Research and Consultation
The goal for research and consultation is to “identify issues, challenges and opportunities for international students”. The actions proposed to achieve this include providing opportunities for reports to be made on the impact of the lack of transport concession among international students. Also mentioned is a promise to improve student housing options through the City of Melbourne Housing Strategy.
Goal 2: Partnership and Collaboration
The goal for partnering seeks to “enhance student well-being through a coordinated response across communities, sectors and government”. Actions included in this initiative reflect the City of Melbourne’s concern with student well-being. Problem gambling, health services, welfare and mental health issues are all mentioned, with suggestions for research, understanding and implementing measures to properly address these issues. Moreover, internships and work experience programs for international students are explored as a way to further empower international students by providing them with more opportunities in these areas.
Goal 3: Knowledge and Innovation
The goal for knowledge and innovation is to “support programs and pathways that welcome, connect and encourage international students to lead and excel in education, employment and community”. The first action mentioned here broadly seeks to “promote Melbourne as the leading destination of choice for international students”. Elsewhere the actions include proposals for attracting investment from global partners, continuing schemes such as Student Welcome Desk and Lord Mayor’s Student Welcome, and continuing to run programs at organisations such as The Couch and Multicultural Hub.
Goal 4: Promoting Diversity
In celebrating diversity, the City of Melbourne looks to “acknowledge, respect and celebrate the diverse cultural, economic and social contribution of international students to the life of the city”. Mentioned here is a proposal to support the retail sector through the Retail and Hospitality Strategy 2013-17, as research has supported the assessment that many international students find work in these sectors and contribute greatly to the city’s economy in this way. Also mentioned in this section is the proposal to foster community involvement in events which reflect cultural heritage.
Goal 5: A Destination of Choice
The final goal seeks to promote Melbourne as a destination of choice. To achieve this the draft strategy looks to furthering Melbourne’s international relationships with industry, education providers and government to support leadership programs and thereby to promote and develop students’ life-long association with Melbourne.
Have your say
The council is open to hearing your views, suggestions, and overall feedback, so this is a very good opportunity for you to help shape the strategy that will have a direct impact on your experience as an international student in Melbourne. You can provide your comments directly to the City of Melbourne by completing the survey online.
We also welcome you to discuss some of your thoughts in the comments section below.