Why only half of international students are heading back to campus

Missing your International student buddies? The good news is they're finally allowed to come back. Image: Shutterstock

New research suggests that only half of international students will be heading back to Australian universities in 2022

Australian universities are finally allowed to welcome back international students this year, but new research commissioned by study support service Studiosity, has indicated that only half of those enrolled plan on returning. Of the students not returning to campus in Australia, 2 in 5 have opted to study elsewhere. 

The Studiosity research also highlighted some of the struggles international students have faced in recent years – with 8 in 10 identifying as lonely or homesick and 28% finding it difficult to make new friends.

Hoang Lan Tran, an international student studying nursing at the University of Tasmania, can relate. “One of the best things I experienced has been how friendly and supportive people are during the pandemic. However, the lows would be that I sometimes feel isolated and cut off from social interactions and family relationships.”

Lin Yuan, an international student studying aviation at the University of South Australia, agrees. “The Australian boarder was closed in 2020 and I’ve been unable to come here until recently,” she explains. “At the beginning, I felt depressed and down, I could not get used to online studying and exams. I kept wanting to ‘skip’ this period of time and go back to Adelaide again. I felt lost and felt like I had no control over my life.”

And the surveyed students’ suggestions for increasing morale? More networking events for international students (42%), additional peer support programs (33%) and a “buddy” system to help them transition into university life in Australia (20%). 

University support

“In years prior to COVID the wellbeing of international students was certainly on the radar,” stresses Chief Academic Officer at Studiosity Professor Judyth Sachs. “It’s understandable that some might be anxious about their sense of belonging with their university, and I know that university leaders are looking at strengthening initiatives that help these students.”

Judyth hopes that we can continue to increase belonging on campus, while also keeping the inclusivity and innovation that came from sudden adaptation in 2020. Image: Studiosity

“However, it’s also clear that some students have found it difficult to adjust to amidst the loss of the ‘student experience’ and the usual connection and social opportunities that are part of studying on-campus.”

As we head into the 2022 academic year, Professor Judyth Sachs emphasis the importance of seeking out peer support programs, virtual networking events and extra study support from your chosen uni. 

“Research shows that students benefit from peer support and peer-to-peer learning programs, and that it increases confidence and sense of belonging in students,” she says.

“Students learn best when they have a range of different study support options at their figure tips that are easily accessible to them 24/7. It’s clear that Australian universities are looking holistically at their whole-of-institution approach to student services.”

If you’re keen to network, get out there and dive into face-to-face opportunities now that the world has (sort of calmed down), check out graduate programsmentorship info and the benefits of joining a student club. More info on Studiosity can be found here. 

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Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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