Support Services For International Students In Australia
Australia has always been a popular destination for international students seeking high-quality education and a multicultural experience.
However, starting your academic journey in a new environment can be sometimes tricky and tough as you may face various issues related to studies, accommodation, health, and well-being.
To help international students adapt to the system and environment, institutions, universities and several government bodies have put in place support services specifically for international students.
In this blog, we will explore some of the most common support services available to international students in Australia, and how you can benefit from them.
Brief Overview Of International Students In Australia
As per the statistics from the Department of Education website, more than 540,000 were studying in Australia during the Januray and February 2023. This is an increase of 26% from the year before for the same time period.
The top 5 countries from which students come from include:
Importance of Support Services for International Students
Support services are essential for international students to succeed academically, maintain their well-being, and have a great experience while studying and living in Australia.
Here are some reasons why support services are important for international students:
- Home Sickness: Separation from families and friends can take a huge toll on students. Support services like counselling, clubs that stand firm on diversity and inclusion, and social events programs for networking help students connect with other peers.
- Cultural Adjustments: Adjusting to a new culture can be very difficult, especially in areas of culture, language and unfamiliar school systems. Support services like orientation programs, language teaching and cultural programs have helped students settle and adapt better and faster.
- New Academic System: International students may encounter different academic systems like teaching styles, school materials and academic counsel relations. Support services like academic counselling, tutoring programs and proper academic orientation programs have assisted students greatly in their academic pursuits.
- Difficulty in Job Search: Looking for jobs and settling into new work culture can be a challenge. Jobs Support services can help in guiding students on their paths to finding jobs in the country with services like career fairs, counselling and training programs.
Types of Support Services Available
There are various types of support services available to international students in Australia.
These support services help them throughout their stay in the country. Here are some of the support services available in Australia:
Academic Support Services
Academic support services are made available in universities and colleges for international students regarding their studies and academic journey.
Blending into a different academic system, curriculum and maybe even teaching styles might pose a difficulty for students.
Here are some common academic support services available to students in Australia:
- Learning and Teaching Centers: These centers offer several support services to international students, including study skills workshops, academic writing support, exam preparation assistance, and research skills development.
- Peer-Assisted Study Sessions: These sessions are designed to provide students with additional support in specific subject areas. Senior students or their peers who have gained mastery of the subject lend a hand through tutoring.
- Online Learning Resources: Universities and colleges in Australia usually provide online learning resources for international students which help them in their studies. These resources help students learn about course sections and modules in a self-paced manner, as well as include help with questions, tutorials and quizzes.
- Academic Skills Advisors: Academic advisers or counsellors have a big role to play in supporting international students. They assist students in preparing for exams or tests as well as educating them on time management strategies.
- Commonwealth Ombudsman International Students: This government support body can investigate complaints about private education providers and universities in Australia. If you can’t resolve an issue with your academic institution, then you can make a complaint via this government organisation.
Career Support Services
Career support services are designed to help international students with their job search (internships, graduate programs, training etc.) and career development.
This support service gives students the proper orientation, training and knowledge they need to successfully enter the Australian job market. Some of the career support services available to international students in Australia include:
- Career Counselling: Many universities and colleges in Australia provide career counselling services to students, where they can receive all the proper guidance and support they need in identifying their career goals, developing their skills and networking.
- Job Search Assistance: International students tend to be unfamiliar with the job search methods and requirements in Australia. The job search assistance can help students overcome this challenge. Career centers in universities and colleges provide job search assistance to students, helping them with preparing resumes and cover letters, finding job vacancies, and preparing them for job interviews.
- Workshops and Seminars: There are certain skills needed for certain jobs in this 21st century and several universities and colleges in Australia offer workshops and seminars on these various career-related skills, including networking, interviewing skills, communication skills and career planning.
- Internship Programs and Networking Opportunities: Internships and work experience are organised by some universities, colleges and external agencies to help give students practical work experience in their chosen field while studying. This gives them an easy transition into the Australian workforce.
- Fairwork Australia: Fairwork is a government organisation that helps and supports the rights of workers in Australia, including international students. They can help resolve issues like pay rates, unpaid work, training, internships, etc for international students.
Social Support Services
International students in Australia can access a range of social support services to help them adjust to life in a new country, make friends, and deal with any challenges they may face in their daily social life.
Some of the social support services available to international students in Australia include:
- Language and Cultural Support: The Australian accent and culture can sometimes sound alien to international students and this can affect their social skills and class communication and interaction with their professors. Due to this challenge, universities and colleges in Australia offer language and cultural support services to international students. These services include English language classes, cultural orientation programs, and language exchange programs.
- Student clubs and societies: Universities and education providers in Australia have various student clubs and societies available that cater to different interests and hobbies. Joining a club or society for international students can be a great way for them to meet new people and make new connections.
- Multicultural community groups: Australia has one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse populations in the world. Therefore, there are many multicultural community groups that welcome international students with open arms. These groups can provide support, advice, and social opportunities to students from different cultural backgrounds. Look up these groups on university websites, local council websites or Facebook groups etc.
Mental Health Support Services
International students sometimes face challenges due to changing environment and separation from family. After all, homesickness is a real thing.
Some universities and education providers in Australia offer free counselling services to support students with mental health and well-being concerns.
These services can provide a confidential and supportive environment to talk about any challenges or issues students may be facing.
Apart from universities, some of the other mental health support services are:
- Headspace: Headspace is a national youth mental health foundation in Australia that provides mental health services to young people aged 12-25. They offer face-to-face, online, and phone counselling services.
- Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue is an Australian mental health organisation that provides information, support, and counselling services to people affected by anxiety, depression, and suicide. They offer online chat, email, and phone counselling services 24 hours daily.
- Lifeline: Lifeline is a national charity providing 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services in Australia. The service is free of charge and can be accessed by calling 13 11 14 from anywhere in Australia.
- Sexual Assault Counselling Service: SACA is a national organisation that provides counselling and support services to people who have experienced sexual assault. They have a network of trained counsellors who provide support over the phone or in person.
- Mindspot: Mindspot is a free online mental health service for people aged 16 years and over in Australia. They provide online assessments and treatment courses for anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain.
- Black Dog Institute: The Black Dog Institute is an Australian mental health research organisation that provides online mental health resources and support for people affected by mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Legal Advice Support Services
Legal advice and support services are a very necessary support for international students. International students may face a range of legal issues that are specific to their situation, including visa issues, employment law, tenancy law, and discrimination.
Legal support services are offered for international students in several ways, including:
- Legal Aid: Legal Aid is a government-funded support service that provides free legal advice and represents people who cannot afford a lawyer.
- International Student Legal Service: Various legal organisations provide a free legal service to international students in Australia, including
- International Student Employment and Accommodation Legal Service (ISEALS) in Victoria.
- Redfern Legal Centre’s International Student Legal Service in New South Wales.
- Caxton Legal Centre in Queensland
- Australian Human Rights Commission: The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is an independent body that investigates and resolves cases of discrimination and human rights violations. International students who face discrimination can lodge a complaint with the AHRC.
- Migration Agents: If you need legal assistance with your visa application or immigration issues, engaging a registered migration agent would be of great help. Migration agents are professionals who are registered with the Australian government and can provide advice and assistance on immigration matters.
Financial Support Services
The need for financial support services for international students in Australia cannot be overstated.
Studying in Australia is quite a significant investment, and international students sometimes face additional financial challenges compared to domestic students. These challenges include increased tuition fees, living expenses, and travel costs among others.
Here are some financial support services for international students:
- Scholarships: There are a variety of scholarships available to international students in Australia. Some of the most popular include the Australia Awards, Endeavour Scholarships and many more. These scholarships can cover tuition fees, living expenses, and even travel costs. Check more details on fully funded scholarships here.
- Part-time work: International students in Australia on a valid student visa are allowed to work up to 48 hours per fortnight during the academic year and full-time during breaks. Many universities have job boards or career centers where students can find part-time work.
- Student loans: International students may be eligible for student loans through their home country or through private lenders in Australia. It’s important to research the terms and conditions of any loans carefully before applying.
- Financial counselling: Financial counselling services are made available to students to help them create a budget, manage their money, and find resources for financial assistance.
- Emergency financial assistance: Some universities offer emergency financial assistance to students who are facing unexpected financial difficulties. This assistance usually comes as a grant, loan, or other financial support systems.
- Tuition Protection Service: This support service has been put in place by the government for international students to protect them if their education provider is unable to deliver their course due to various reasons such as the closure of the institution or the course, or if the provider is unable to meet its financial or regulatory obligations.
Many student associations in Australia stand for the interests of students and cater to their needs.
Here are some of the most prominent student associations in Australia:
- Council of International Students Australia (CISA)
- National Union of Students (NUS)
- Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA)
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA)
- Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA)
- Council of Australian Law Deans (CALD)
Where to Find Support Services
There are several resources available to international students to seek support services. Some of the common ones include:
- International Student Services Office (ISSO): Many universities in Australia have an ISSO, which provides support services to international students in terms of visa and immigration issues, academic advising and cultural adjustment.
- Student organisations: Many universities have student organisations specifically for international students. These organisations provide opportunities for students to connect with others from their home country or cultural background and can help with social and cultural adjustment.
- Academic departments: International students can seek support from their academic departments. They can speak with their professors or academic advisors about academic issues or concerns.
- Peer mentorship programs: Some universities have peer mentorship programs for international students. These programs match incoming international students with current students who can provide guidance and support.
- Community resources: International students can also seek support from community resources such as community centres, religious organisations, and cultural associations.
- Government website: Official government websites like Study Australia and many other state and territory websites also provide information on the support services available for international students in Australia.
- Overseas Students Australia: Last but not least, our website provides a ton of resources for international students in Australia, including free guides, templates, checklists, etc.
On-Campus Support Services
On-campus support services are provided within academic institutions to help students succeed academically, emotionally, and socially. These services usually differ by university; here are some common examples of services you can expect:
- Counselling and Mental Health Services
- Career Services
- Tutoring and Academic Support
- Health and Wellness Services
- Financial Aid and Scholarships
- Student Accommodation Services
- International Student Services
- Student Activities and organisations
- Campus Safety and Security
- Disability support services
- Student accommodation service
- Childcare services
Off-Campus Support Services
Off-campus support services refer to resources available to students beyond the college or university campus. These services are usually available in the local community. Here are some examples of off-campus support services:
- Community Mental Health Services
- Non-Profit Organisations
- Job Centers
- Public Libraries
- Medical Centers.
- Community Centers
- Legal Aid Services
- Religious Organisations
- Transportation Services
- Volunteer organisations
- Food Banks
Importance of seeking and utilising support services
International students are highly advised to seek support services as the need arises.
By taking advantage of these services, international students can thrive academically and personally, creating memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.
These services have been put in place to ensure you have a smooth transition into studying in Australia and have a smooth experience.
Lots of these services are usually free for international students as well. But we suggest you confirm that before engaging any of these services.
As an international student, studying abroad can be a very exciting and life-changing experience. Although, it can also be challenging at times, especially when transitioning into a new culture, academic system, and social environment.
This is why it’s crucial to keep in mind that asking for assistance and support is a show of strength rather than weakness. Regardless of your perceived importance of a problem, do reach out to support services that would help you tackle the problem. \
Reaching out to counsellors, academic advisers and even friends might just be the help you need. Also, remember that many people are willing and ready to support and guide you through your journey.
So, don’t restrain from asking for help when you need it; you deserve all the support you can get.