FINALISTS for the 2015 Victorian International Education Awards have been announced as the Victorian Government recognises the exceptional contributions from overseas and local students in the international education sector of Victoria. Amber Ziye Wang has more.
This year, 22 students across 13 countries representing the Higher Education, English Language Training, Research and VET sectors have entered the final round of the 2015 Victorian International Education Awards selection. Winners will be announced at the end of the year.
Speaking to an audience of students, government representatives and industry stakeholders, Rebecca Hall, Director of International Education Victorian Government says this year the judges have again been impressed by the high calibre of entries and outstanding achievements of international students to the Victorian community.
“We acknowledge the contributions of students to be absolutely essential in the international education sector as a priority and drive of Victoria’s development,” Ms Hall said.
“The sector has become the largest services export of the state, while Melbourne and Victoria attract more than 150,000 international student enrollments annually.”
This year, a new category – “Victorian Student of the Year – Internationalisation” – will also recognise domestic students completing an accredited course at a Victorian education provider, who have built international relationships through their academic endeavours.
Joslyn Ma from Monash University is one of the five Victorian finalists in the new category. As the President of Education for the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA), she says it is important also for local students to take part in the international education community.
“Communication between the international and local student community should never be one-sided,” she said.
“Australian students also need to contribute to filling the gap between the two sides, as international students may often find themselves making a lot more efforts in reaching out to the local community.”
“Communication between the international and local student community should never be one-sided.” – Victorian International Education Award nominee Joslyn Ma, President of Education for the Australia-China Youth Association
With nominees from countries such as Vietnam, Turkey, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, the diverse group of students believe that the Victorian International Education Awards is an excellent recognition of their efforts in community engagement.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be recognised for the work I’ve been doing,” Filipino student Lemuel Didulo Lopez said.
“It made me realise that what comes with the acknowledgement is also a lot more responsibilities.”
Undertaking his PhD in Law at the University of Melbourne, Lopez is a finalist in the Research category. Currently upholding leadership roles in a number of student representative bodies, including the Filipino Australian Students Council – Victoria and the ASEAN Students Council Association, he says being part of the community is essential to the success of students both academically and outside of their universities.
“I think it’s absolutely important that international students reach out to the community, to explore what Victoria as a student destination has to offer,” he said.
“Meanwhile efforts need to be made by local organisations to spread the messages across, particularly with an active online presence.”
The Higher Education sector has seen four students entering the final round of the selection process, with student leaders from representative bodies including AFIS (Australian Federation of International Students) and CISA (Council of International Students Australia) listed.
Malaysian commerce student Kai Jie Lim from AFIS says experience in student-run organisations has given him opportunities to make an impact via student representation.
“I think local and international students should come together and transcend their differences in the context of a globalised world,” Lim said.
“The nomination will certainly give me indication of what I should go about doing to make the connection in the future.”
When asked about messages that nominations meant for the wider student community, finalists agreed that recognition bodes well both for them and other international students in the country.
“I think local and international students should come together and transcend their differences in the context of a globalised world.” – Victorian International Education Awards nominee Kai Jie Lim, President & Project Director of AFIS
“I know it’s always not easy to live away from your families, but dream high: hard work always pays back,” says Saudi Arabian student Heba Zahid, a Research finalist and advocate for counselling and support services at Monash University.
“I hope other international students will see in us the possibilities in them: that great opportunities will always come to those with hard work,” Lopez said.
The Victorian International Education Awards are an initiative of the Victorian Government to support the international education sector, promote best practice in the sector and raise awareness of its benefits to the broader community by recognising innovative education institutions, companies and service providers, as well as the exceptional accomplishments of international students.
International Student Award winners will receive a scholarship of $10,000 to contribute to their study at an educational institution in Victoria. Recipients will also be recognised as ambassadors of the Victorian Government’s Study Melbourne initiative and help promote the state as a leading international student destination.