Helping international students thrive in Australia
Jane Li18 August 2023
Area Director, Australasia, IDP Education
More than half a million international students are studying in Australia with dreams of a new life ahead. For many, arriving in our country has been a long-time ambition, and in many circumstances, families and communities have made sacrifices and contributions to help their child on the path to a new life.
Arriving to live in a new country, where the culture and language are very different to your normal experience, can be extremely overwhelming. Once the initial excitement dissipates, the reality of juggling study, work, living arrangements and relationships can take effect on a student’s health and wellbeing. For many this is the first time they have lived out of home or travelled abroad.
While studying can be overwhelming for new students, IDP is committed to ensuring that students are supported as they embark on their international study journey in Australia.
Every student has the chance to be part of IDP’s welcoming onshore community which offers on-demand social, career and migration support. After a series of focus group interviews and surveys with international students, IDP launched Thrive in November 2021, as a program designed to connect, support, and reward students throughout their time in Australia.
Before the introduction of the Thrive program, few IDP students who came to Australia were fully aware of the support we could offer them through their time in the country. The program focuses on engaging and supporting every IDP student, helping them settle into their new country, build social connections and realise their full potential. Through the Thrive program, our goal is to ensure that every student who studies abroad with IDP feels engaged and supported at each stage of their journey, including after they arrive at their destination. Australia felt like the right place for us to launch the program, considering its popularity among international students and our established support network onshore.
When a student touches down in Australia for the first time, one of our friendly contact centre team members gives them a call to welcome them. It is at this point that we ask them some questions about how they are settling in, and we offer them an opportunity to speak, in their own language, to another person who is here in Australia. Arriving to live in a new country can be overwhelming, and based on our research, we know that this can contribute to mental health challenges, so we want to provide that support when they might need it most.
As part of the Thrive program, students are offered access to a local community, free events and loyalty rewards.
Thrive Community: Thrive is focused on developing a peer-to-peer community for international students, which provides a safe space to connect with others who are on the same international journey. We want to foster a sense of connection between students so that they can build friendships and have a place to ask questions about things that are confusing or worrying them.
Thrive Events: Thrive offers regular free events across Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. The activities are designed and adapted based on student feedback to ensure they are highly relevant and deliver what our students really need and want. This has led us to create four event pillars, each touching on a part of international student experience: Arrive, Settle, Social and Success. So far, these events have included day trips to iconic locations like Great Ocean Road, picnics at botanic gardens, visits to Australia's beaches, mental health events, career and job-readiness webinars with free interview and CV writing coaching, and opportunities to connect with professionals from various industries to enhance students' networks and career prospects.
Thrive Rewards: The latest addition to the program offers loyalty rewards and welcome packs, which include shopping vouchers, meal deals, and special student offers and discounts. Thrive rewards is currently being revamped as we upgrade our web and app experience with bigger and better offerings from IDP and its partners.
At its core, Thrive is about making sure that international students feel connected and have the best possible study experience in Australia. Ankita, an international student who is a part of the Thrive community in Adelaide, says that being an international student was often challenging. Being introduced to the Thrive community during the pre-departure sessions in India gave her a place to find support and advice.
“I immediately joined the [Thrive] group in need of support. I followed the updates, such as the numerous job openings for students, relevant news pertaining to COVID and student work hours restrictions. I took part in a career session where I learned how important it was to modify resumes to suit Australian standards and how to excel in interviews.
“My confidence was tremendously [improved], and I was successful in several interviews. I also had the chance to interview for a position with IDP's Thrive team, which was posted on the community page itself, and I was successful in doing so.
“I'm happy to be a part of this initiative and contribute to the development of a student community, since it has given me the opportunity to support and uplift other students on their path in Australia and help them to achieve their goals, like I did.
“My experience as an international student has been so significant for me [as part of] the Thrive program,” she said.
We hope that by building a strong and empowered community of international students through Thrive, IDP will continue to demonstrate our commitment to being with students for every step of their journey.