International students, meet your peak body: CISA

Who are the Council of International Students Australia, and how are they representing the interests of international students at the state and national level? Meld asked Thomson Ch’ng, president of CISA to provide an update on what’s on the advocacy agenda for 2014.

The 2013/2014 CISA Executive Committee. From left: Lily Salleh, Naomi Rono, Amir Nourani, Marie Christelle Collet, Ibrahim Sama, Thomson Ch’ng, Johan Kamal Hamidon, William Zhao, Kylee Hartman, Shufaa Athman. Absent:  Catherine Lou

Since its inception in 2010, the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) has been widely recognised as an effective national voice for international students in Australia. Through a range of initiatives, including its Annual National Conference and many state-based forums, CISA provides a platform for international students to be heard.

Today, there are about 400,000 international students in Australia. As the national peak representative body for all international students, CISA represents students across different sectors, including those studying in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Sector and the English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

CISA sits on various international education stakeholder committees related to international education policy, including the Education Visa Consultative Committee (EVCC). It works to provide international student perspectives at discussions which concern the future of the international education sector, as well as the international student community in Australia.

CISA receives award for the very first time      

In early October, CISA was awarded the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA)’s Excellence Award in Professional Commentary during the Australian International Education Conference 2013. This award recognises excellence in journalism, social media commentary and/or publications which focus on aspects of the international education sector.

Among other initiatives, CISA was recognised for its participation in the Knight Review. This Review saw the announcement of the Post-Study Work Visa for international students, allowing them the opportunity to gain work experience in Australia upon completion of their qualifications at a Bachelor Degree level or above.


Photo: CISA

CISA Strategic Plan 2013-2017

CISA has a plan to continue building on our key achievements, representing and contributing to the wider international student community in Australia.

Our five key priorities are:

–       Strengthen relationships with key stakeholders within and beyond the industry

Over the past three years, CISA has sat on various committees to further engagement with the international education sector in Australia. CISA aims to strengthen sector relationships to assist in addressing international student issues in Australia. Beyond that, it is also important for CISA to perform community engagement functions and demonstrate effective leadership in bridging the gap between the international student community and the wider Australian society.

–       Strengthen engagement with our members through leadership empowering 

CISA has consulted extensively with its members on various reforms to ensure that student voices are heard on a state and national level. CISA also acknowledges the importance of leadership potential shown by various international student leaders across Australia. It believes in cultivating and empowering international students to take on leadership roles to ensure the continuation of a strong and legitimate student voice as well as the sustainability of CISA as an organisation.

–       Promote student representation across VET and ELICOS sector

Over the last few years Australia has seen increased numbers of international student enrolment across the TAFE, VET and ELICOS sector, both in public and private institutions. CISA therefore recognises the importance of ensuring that the voices of international students in these sectors are heard and their needs and interests addressed.

–       Promote student engagement between metropolitan and regional institutions

Areas of study and residence are key to the international student experience. CISA members comprise of students from both metropolitan and regional institutions across Australia. For this reason, CISA believes in the importance of facilitating interaction between students from both regions to present a united voice for international students in Australia.

–       Promote cross-cultural understanding and embrace multiculturalism within and beyond the international student community

With students from more than 100 countries, the international student community is one of the most diverse in Australia. Its members contribute to Australian society through providing fresh perspectives, new ideas and ties to other countries. CISA is proud to be a peak body for this group of students who are bringing
Australia closer to the international community in the 21st century.

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