Tuesday, 25 August 2020

More than 700 international students have commenced their studies at UWA this semester.

The students, from countries including China, India, Singapore and Indonesia, will join classes online until Australia’s borders re-open.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor David Sadler said the numbers of commencements were a much better result than anticipated, with only a 10 per cent decrease in international commencements compared to 2019.

“In Semester 2 we have had 362 new international undergraduate enrolments and 408 new international postgraduate enrolments. There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our international student recruitment forecast; however, we are pleased to report these results,” he said.

Several courses, including the Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Information Technology and newly created Master of Business Analytics, saw international student enrolments increase significantly in Semester 2.

Professor Sadler attributes the strong result to the University’s comprehensive support for international students, along with flexible study options and innovative marketing initiatives.

“Our Student Life, Admissions and Future Students teams were in constant communication with our current and commencing international students as soon as COVID-19 began to affect them,” he said.

“We were able to offer assistance with studying online or deferring commencement, issue new Certificates of Enrolment for visa purposes, and provide welfare and accommodation support, among other services.

“Additionally, we were fortunate to have support from the Student Guild’s International Students’ Department, who helped ensure our students received clear and practical information.”

Once Semester 1 was under way, UWA’s Global Engagement Office and Brand, Marketing and Recruitment team started work on finding new ways to connect prospective international students with the University.

In a first for UWA, the University partnered with three Chinese universities to establish UWA Learning Centres in China .

Based at Southwest University in Chongqing, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Tianmuhu and Northeast Forestry University in Harbin, the Learning Centres were initially expected to host around 100 UWA students studying in China.

Director of the Global Engagement Office Callum Cowell said more than 160 students are now based at the Learning Centres.

“The Learning Centres are a great way for students to live on campus and access additional academic tutoring, peer support and campus facilities, keeping them connected to the UWA community until they can join us in Perth,” he said.

“We’re really pleased to see vibrant and supportive UWA student communities forming around the world.”

Alongside this, a new Chinese language website was developed for prospective students.

Hosted in China, the website offers faster loading speeds and more accessible content for Chinese prospective students, their families, partner universities and Chinese high schools.

The website complements UWA’s WeChat account, a vital social media channel for engagement in China given Chinese mobile users spend 30 per cent of their time on WeChat and there are more than 1.15 billion WeChat accounts across the country.

Meanwhile, students who can’t make it to the UWA campus in person can visit online through the UWA 360 Virtual Tour .

Launched on UWA Open Day, the tour gives a bird’s eye view of 18 locations on campus, stretching from the UWA Health Campus to the Business School, and includes fun facts about iconic locations.

While it’s still unclear when international students will again be able to travel to Perth, Professor Sadler is confident UWA will continue attracting new international students.

“When the Australian borders first closed, a lot of universities were unsure whether international students would be open to studying online at Australian universities,” he said.

“While there’s still a great deal of uncertainty, we’ve been able to show that providing strong academic and welfare support, combined with innovative marketing practices, can have a really positive effect on the numbers of students continuing to choose UWA.

“We’re pleased to have students joining our community from around the world and look forward to welcoming them to Perth once our borders are open again.”


Education Quarterly