Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Legislation and the organisation – a case study example

This was provided by a student in the PIER Diploma of International Education Services, in response to a hypothetical situation involving a younger international student. The question asked what the institution, in this case a school, should do to respond to the student and comply with relevant legislation.

The case of Stefan

Stefan, an under-17 international student, informed the education provider that there are not enough seats for students in his class; that other classmates are engaging in distracting behaviours which prevent his learning; that the teacher is too difficult to understand; that he is having difficulty in class; and that he is not as happy in Australia as his agent led him to believe. After six months, Stefan failed 50% of his requirements, has not complied with attendance requirements, and has changed his accommodation without informing the provider. He has been seen drunk. It is likely that Stefan’s student visa will be cancelled due to his failure to comply with visa conditions. This is an unfortunate result that might have been avoided with timely assistance early in his schooling here. Looking at Part D of the National Code, there are relevant directions within Standards 2, 3, 5, 6, 8,10, 11, and 14. There are requirements within Occupational Health and Safety legislation that should have been followed, and there are explicit conditions for student visas within the Immigration Act (Schedule 8 of the Migration Regulations and Public Interest Criterion 4012A in Schedule 4 of the Migration Regulations states that visa condition 8352 requires provider-approved accommodation for under-18 students). Finally, the Child Protection Act discusses reporting of students at risk of harm (which may well be an issue if he is now living in unsuitable lodgings with inappropriate companions.) Stefan’s disappointing failure could have been avoided if both the provider and Stefan acknowledged and adhered to these directions, requirements and conditions.


I make the following recommendations to deal with this and future similar situations.
  • I recommend that we revisit the requirements for registration on CRICOS in order to ensure that we comply with the ESOS Act and the National Code. Part C of the Code (Registration on CRICOS) 6.1b requires that providers include information about the proposed maximum number of students in regard to resources and facilities. There is a danger that we have increased our student numbers without a corresponding adjustment to facilities and resources. When we are confident that we have met requirements, we should ensure that we provide accurate information on facilities, etc., to prospective students, as per Standard 2.1. Our numbers (international and domestic students combined) have increased and it is likely that we need to look at resources: we traditionally ensure that our international students are provided adequate resources, but we will not be able to continue in this way.

  • I recommend that we identify and record occasions and means by which students are notified of important obligations, such as their obligation to notify the provider of any change of address. In this way, both the provider and the students have confidence that Standard 3.1e is met. We are careful to notify students of their obligations, and there should be a specific record to refer to in the event of disputes.

  • I recommend we delve into Stefan’s perceptions and expectations for the Australian education experience to find out if his agent has engaged in false advertising and recruitment promises. It is likely that Stefan is experiencing culture shock, but if the agent was indeed negligent, then Standard 4.5 requires that we take action against the agent.

  • I recommend a review of current practices to check the support and general welfare arrangements for underage students, as well as the system used to make reports to DIAC. I am especially concerned that Stefan has been seen drunk and dishevelled and am aware that he may be in danger of harm. Standard 5 requires that arrangements to in place “to protect the personal safety and social well-being” of students. The provider is also expected to inform DIAC of changes to living arrangements and advise DIAC if the change is provider-approved. There are a number of support personnel available to students, and support services could benefit by making some decisions about the involvement and coordination of nurses, youth workers, chaplains, and volunteers.

  • I recommend that we review our student support services: Standards 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, and 6.7 requires us to assist students to adjust to study and life in Australia, including giving them information about the complaints and appeals process, visa conditions relating to achievement and attendance requirements, providing them with welfare-related services to course progress and accommodation issues, etc. I recommend that we look at our complaints and appeals process, providing in-service to relevant personnel and updating documents, systems, orientations and lessons. Expectations and requirements of Standard 8 must be successfully integrated into our practices: if Stefan’s complaints had been handled appropriately earlier, his later poor showing might have been avoided.

  • I recommend that we develop proactive procedures for assisting at-risk students, and produce and deliver a documented intervention strategy, as required as per Standard 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5. This will be a major undertaking because of the inevitable call for whole-school involvement in working parties and committees dealing with support for the entire school population.

  • I recommend that we check how we implement attendance policies and procedures, as per Standard 11.3, 11.4, 11.5 and 11.6. In particular, we need to identify strategies by which we can assess attendance, identify at-risk students, and deliver appropriate counselling in a timely fashion.

  • I recommend we acknowledge our responsibilities to provide the best possible teaching staff. We must be willing to investigate and deal with complaints relating to teaching staff. Standard 14.1 requires that resourcing is adequate. Further, teachers are required to be appropriately recruited, inducted, assessed and engage in ongoing development. Currently teachers are sourced from the state education department without specific regard to the unique skills and abilities needed for teaching international students. Given that the school needs to accept these teachers, we could improve our staffing by at least looking at who we have and assigning them to classes more mindfully.

  • I recommend that we ask our OHS officer to go through the institution to identify potential hazards. These may include trips and falls due to students sitting in pathways or aisles, physical injury such as neck sprain due to strains and stresses in viewing whiteboards or computer monitors, back pain from inappropriate seating, and physical symptoms relating to noise levels and stress. With the increase in computer facilities, it is timely for us to look at ergonomics within classes and offices.

  • I recommend that we consider developing a policy and procedures to deal with reporting child protection concerns to the Department of Children’s Services. The Child Protection Act specifies mandatory reporting of suspected harm for students 15 and under. However, for students over the age of 15, DoCS suggests involving the student in the reporting process, or notifying the department of the student’s wishes about any report.
If you have any feedback, please leave your comments below.

Friday, August 31, 2007

IES Wins International Education Industry Showcase

Celebrating international Education and Training - Queensland Government Awards 30 August 2007

IES Managing Director Chris Evason (right) with the
Chairman of the IES Board, Brendt Munro

Professional International Education Services (PIER), an initiative of International Education developed the Education Agent Training Course and the Diploma of International Education Services, and has been succesfully delivering these courses since 2006. IES has been recognised in the Queensland Government Industry Showcase Awards for the second year, this time winning the category of Partnerships for Positive Outcomes.

The partnerships established in relation to the Diploma in particular demonstrate that Queensland institutions have been positive and encouraging, and have made significant investments in training their staff, to benefit international education in the State. These partnerships are cross sectoral, and range across institutions and organisations, demonstrating a significant level of collaboration and cooperation.

The success of the Diploma program is largely due to the interest and support of a number of bodies, including the Australian Goernment, who have worked with the course developers, and whose belief in the value of professional development has allowed many individuals to gain qualifications in this field. The award was presented to Chris Evason Managing Director of IES, by the Minister for Education Training and Minisiter for the Arts, the Honourable Rod Welford MP.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Second Sydney formal assessment test centre is now open

The EATC is pleased to announce the opening of a second Sydney formal assessment test Centre, in partnership with Studylink.

The test centre is located in St Leonard's, very close to the St Leonard's train station and to bus stops at The Forum on the Pacific Highway. By train, St Leonard's is a 15-20 minute train trip from Wynyard.

To book a formal assessment test, please log on to the EATC and go to 'formal assessment' and then click to book a test. Simply choose your location as 'Sydney' and then choose a session that suits you. Current sessions are available August 16, 20, 22, 23, 27, 30, plus more to come.

Qualified Education Agent Counsellors now have a logo

The Education Agent Training Course has almost 300 qualified education agent counsellors (QEAC) from 27 countries. Education Agents from all over the world are increasingly recognising the importance of professional development in the international education industry and becoming qualified education agent counsellors.

In support of this, the EATC has developed a QEAC logo, in addition to the widget already available, that education agents can download and use on their websites and business cards to indicate their professional status. This logo also displays the QEAC number of the education agent counsellor, an identification that is theirs alone and can be checked on the QEAC website.

Are you a qualified education agent counsellor? If not, please go to the EATC website and register today!

If you're already a qualified education agent counseller, you'll find your unique QEAC logo by logging into the EATC and clicking the "Your Account" link in the upper right corner.

Monday, July 30, 2007

EATC India Workshop Update


My name is Amy Burton and I am the EATC Manager for PIER at International Education Services.

Registrations are still open for the EATC Workshop in India, which is free to attend and being held at the end of August. Registrations are open to junior and senior staff, with the formal assessment test also offered at the standard fee.

Several important changes have been made to the EATC India workshop, both in New Delhi and Hyderabad. Further details can be found on the EATC website, but it is important to note:
  1. The date of the New Delhi event has been changed to MONDAY AUGUST 27. This is because Tuesday has become a public holiday. Unless otherwise advised, all those booked into sessions 1, 2 or 3 will remain current.

  2. The format for the Hyderabad event has changed. All those registered for this event will be emailed individually in regards to this. If you are from Hyderabad and would like to attend the alternative event, please email me.

  3. The professional development (session 1) and formal assessment tests will be held at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi, with the Cocktail reception (Session 3) for the New Delhi event to be held at the Henry Lawson Centre at the Australian High Commission.

  4. Guest speakers for the New Delhi event will include staff from the EATC, AEI and DIAC.
Please keep checking the Workshop website for further updates and location addresses. We look forward to seeing you in August.


Amy Burton
EATC Manager
International Education Services

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What if a student goes missing?

Thoughts to consider

What may have happened to the student?

Further immediate investigation is required to ascertain the possible extent of the potential crisis. It is no good assembling the crisis management team until we have some preliminary facts to work with.

As Head of International Student Services I would: (not necessarily in this order)

  • Advise my line manager - Group Manager, Student Affairs of the situation, my plan to ascertain facts in this case and expected timelines.
  • Engage the assistance of an international student counsellor and administrative staff to make and report on their enquiries to:

    • Students landline, mobile, email address'
    • Faculty administrators / program coordinators,
    • Lecturers and Tutorial staff - in all enrolled subjects
    • Known friends
    • House mates
    • Class mates
    • Known religious, sporting or community affiliations
    • Employer

  • Drive to the students last known residential address with an international student counsellor.
  • Report on investigative work undertaken and results obtained to line manager with the recommendation to either assemble the Case Management Team or that the student has been located.
Who needs to be a part of your case management team?

  • Line Manager, General Manager, Student Affairs. (Authority / Guidance / Support)
  • General Manager / Registrar of the University. (University administrative / financial issues / family liaison)
  • Vice Chancellor or nominated delegate. (Head of University & important symbol of involvement / Television / Radio spokesperson)
  • Head of Media services. (Measured media control / Press releases)
  • International Support, Student Services team. (Leg work)
  • Representative of students Religious affiliation OR failing that, the Chaplaincy. (Guidance / Support)
  • Bi-lingual staff at university / trusted ethnic community spokesperson. (Translation assistance, if and when needed.)
What would you do if one of your students goes missing?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Staff assistance and cultural understanding requirements

Why would a staff member not feel comfortable with helping a student?

I would say staff members can ALWAYS be of assistance to students. However staff not trained in mental health issues should not, at any time, become involved in personal / family / relationship / academic stress issues. Staff should always be very mindful of their field of expertise - a meeting that seemed to have gone well and advice given that seemed to have been accepted - could have devastating outcomes. If staff are not trained in counselling and mental health, they should offer support to the student by referring them to specialist staff. Students can be reassured that counsellors are there to assist, and is what they are employed to do on an everyday basis (indicating there is no shame in working through these feelings / issues).

Staff bridge building with students can be done through joining and participating in International Friendship Programs or clubs, as these provide an "out of office hours" way shared cultural exchange, which can provide an ideal way to be seen as an approachable, supportive, and non-judgemental staff member.

How might a staff member misinterpret some of the signs of stress mentioned?

  • Marked decline in quality of work and/or class participation (other interests now that they are no longer under the watchful eye of the home community)
  • Frequent absences from class (Freedom)
  • Marked change in personal hygiene or appearance (this one is tough - I used to collect students arriving in Toowoomba on the week-ends from the McCafferty's Coach Terminal in Toowoomba - MANY a time, I would be greeted by a suit clad, clean cut, slick combed black short haired, neat and tidy student who would call me "M'am" - before two or three months have passed - that same student could be seen in jeans, t-shirts, "funky" hair, which could have blond streaks or blond, brown and red streaks, and now addresses me as "Hey, Eileen, how 'r ya?" The reason for the transformation - they have 9-10 months before they have to go back and visit Mum and Dad, until then - they are going to "let their hair down" so to speak.
  • Extreme dependency on academic or administrative staff. "Also a difficult one to judge - new students, in my experience, can imprint on admin staff like new born ducks. Trained / experienced admin staff understand that this can be part of the security the student needs as they are trying to adapt to the new country, culture, academic process - in this issue, staff coming along or encouraging to meet the student at various social events, particularly during orientation, provides opportunities to get the student into social support groups. Usually within the first week or two the student begins to let go of the admin staff's apron strings and settle into their new life.
Why might the student refuse to see a counsellor even if recommended to do so by a staff member?
  • Stigma that they may have a mental "problem".
  • The name "Counsellor"
  • Not confident of approaching the reception / administrative staff to try to make an appointment / lack of privacy in the reception area.
In the case of a student requiring personal counselling, I would discuss it with the student, get their consent, assure them I will go with them to book the appointment, assure them of complete confidentiality of the meeting and that no one will know which part of the service they are there to use - Medical - Doctor, Nurse, Health information, Careers and Employment, International Support - Social events, visa issues etc.

In the case of basic learning support - I would print relevant information regarding support workshops from the Internet for them and supply the dates, times and locations of support. Intensive learning support, I would assist the student to book an appointment at reception.

In your organisation, what does the staff consider the most difficult issues to assist international students with?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Coping with difficult incidents

Being particularly empathetic in nature, I think just about any critical incident would present it's own coping difficulties, if not during then certainly after, particularly depending on the outcome.

Horrifying circumstances:
  • Severe injuries to the student - savage assault, mutilation, burns, permanent brain injury or limb / mobility loss.
  • Murder /rape / assault of a student
  • Suicide
  • Injury, physical abuse or Death of a child
  • Violent death / Multiple casualties /deaths- eg: Shooting / bomb explosion.
Which stakeholders would be most affected and why? Again, the strength of reactions of immediate circle of friends / family / staff members and the greater community, will depend upon the eventual reason for the student being missing. Not that trauma can really be graded into lesser and worse case scenarios, but an injury or severe injury may not cause "as much" shock and grief in the greater community than say a violent death scenario (eg: An Australian version of the Jakarta or Bali bombing)

  • (Immediate) Friends (shock, loss, grief, anger)
  • (Immediate) Family (language difficulties, difficulty understanding process & procedure, grief, shock, anger)
  • Accommodation / Homestay provider
  • Housemates
  • (Greater circle) Class mates, acquaintances, students at educational institution, students at other educational institutions. (shock at events / outcome, concern for personal safety, anxiety, mistrust of others)

Critical Incident Management Team (being privy to perhaps more detailed information than others)

International Support, Student Services Staff, including administrative and counselling staff.(coalface support of CIMT, immediate friends and family of the student and greater community, depending on the incident.)

External Emergency Services (Police, Ambulance, State Emergency Service, Hospital staff - again - depends on the incident)

Religious affiliations (counselling and if necessary - damage control, particularly if a crime has been committed)
  • eg: we have not yet seen it in Australia, (thank goodness) but how would we cope / manage a situation where a student has been involved in a terrorist act - eg: London subway bombings, Madrid train bomb, Bali restaurant bomb etc etc. or
  • is revealed to have been involved with some sort of extremists group who's purpose is to harm?
Interpreters - needing to convey stressful messages at a time of great emotional upheaval.

What suggestions and assistance would you give them to provide support?
  • Memorial service invitation
  • Debriefing session
  • Personal counselling availability to students, staff and affected community members at no cost at the Universities Student Services.
  • Creation and issue of a pamphlet or brochure along the lines of UOS (2006) "How to cope with the effects of critical incident stress" with contact numbers for support.
What factors would make the incident difficult for you to cope with?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Factors, reports and prevention

Which of the factors listed may contribute to a student who goes missing. Explain interpretations.

Design issues / Inadequate equipment functioning.
  • automatically locking doors. Some archive storage facilities, some commercial fridge/freezers, and some older building that have retained old "bank vaults" have automatically locking doors. These are dangerous as often a person can be locked inside without being able to re-open the door. Our missing student could have been doing a quick task for a staff member and has accidentally been locked inside a device.
Lack of experience/ Lack of training.

  • At times mentors are used to accompany students on social events rather than staff. Although all mentors are provided with extensive ongoing training, their lack of experience, particularly if a stressful situation unfolds, could mare their decision making processes. In this instance, a mentor with a bus load of 54 bustling students, perhaps taken on a day bush walking trip / bbq, with a mini-crisis unfolding (say a student falls ill), may miscount the number of students that should be on the bus at departure time. Hence our "missing student" could be left behind - if the student was lost in the bush to begin with, this can become life threatening.
Inadequate supervision.

  • If the student was assigned a task and did not reappear following that task, staff ought to be alert to notice and follow up. eg: self locking door.
  • As with the bush bbq incident above - inadequate supervision of students.
Environment eg: floor / ground surface.

  • Not likely in Toowoomba with our complete lack of rain - but in areas that get torrential rain, flash floods - students can be caught unaware of the danger of crossing water covered roads - on foot or in a vehicle and crossing roads that may have significantly been undermined from fast flowing water. Some universities are located next to rivers, which may present other dangers - eg: canoing during a flood.
What preventative or corrective actions could address these factors?
  1. Ensuring all equipment, particularly doors are operational from both sides of the locked door (including deadlocks).
  2. Ensure mentors have a list of students that needs to be checked off when boarding the bus at the university and at the end of the event to ensure ALL students are accounted for.
  3. Ensure mentor have easily accessible contact numbers if any assistance / advice is required.
  4. Be alert to student delays / absences when setting them a task and follow up if student does not reappear.
  5. Provide students with a "Survival Guide" at orientation noting some local "danger" issues - whether that be driving into the outback without water, flash flooding issues, or sharks and dumper waves at the coast. Also provide Internet or poster information if a crisis situation is imminent - eg: Cyclone Larry - How to prepare for a cyclone / bush fire etc.
Have you ever encountered an international student going missing?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Cross-Cultural Considerations

What kinds of cross cultural problems occurred in these situations?

Situation 1*
The [International Programs and Services] office was asked by the director of the Malaysian Student Services office in Chicago to intervene with a county coroner on behalf of the family of a Muslim student. The student had been transferred to another hospital and had died there. Because the fire was arson, the resulting deaths were potential homicides.

The coroner in that county wanted to do an autopsy, which would have been a violation of Islamic principles. However, the case was made that the cause of death (smoke inhalation) has already been determined, so no autopsy was needed. The family’s wishes were followed with no interference in investigation procedures.
*Rabaey, J A 2001, ‘Explaining Cross-Cultural Differences at Times of Crisis’ in P A Burak & W W Hoffa (eds), Crisis Management in a Cross-Cultural Setting, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, pp.49-50.

The County Coroner wished to perform an autopsy on a male whom had died in a fire. The coroner may not have been aware that the deceased was of the Islamic faith or of the strong preference for autopsies not to be performed on Muslims without the family’s consent and only when it is required by law to ascertain the cause of death. In this instance, a representative of the International Programs and Services office of the University of Chicago was able to brief the County coroner on specific aspects of Islamic culture and as the cause of death had already been determined, there was no further need for an autopsy to be performed.

Situation 2*
At the University of Iowa, cross-cultural differences resulted in serious misinterpretation by the media and the community. A Chinese student and her two friends attempted to retrieve artwork necessary for her application to a Masters degree program, They saw a canoe nearby with the University of Iowa name on it. They grabbed it, understanding that they were University of Iowa students and this was university property, so they could use it. They got in and started down the rapidly floating river. The boat capsized. The students were floating down the river, holding on to the boat.

It was a very serious situation, made more difficult for rescue teams because of communication difficulties. The students were rescued. The news TV teams were there, taking pictures of… what they called the “joy ride”. The Chinese students were embarrassed because they had lost face in front of the community. The police arrested the students and had them stay overnight in jail because boating on the river was not allowed. It appears that the students were laughing when being rescued. The immigration specialist at the university intervened to inform the police that in ‘Chinese culture it’s proper to laugh when you’re really embarrassed.
*Rabaey, J A 2001, ‘Explaining Cross-Cultural Differences at Times of Crisis’ in P A Burak & W W Hoffa (eds), Crisis Management in a Cross-Cultural Setting, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, pp.49-50.

Communication difficulties between rescuers and 3 laughing Chinese women.
TV news televised the students ordeal branding it a “joy ride” “Joy ride” is a negative term that implies a deliberate, frivolous and thoughtless act. Dependant on the cultural atmosphere within a city or town, with regard to internationals, this type of media coverage could serve to invoke anger and racist responses.
Police arrested the students because boating on the river was not allowed and perhaps to “teach them a lesson” that joy riding, endangering rescuers, police and themselves, was not a laughing matter or acceptable in Iowa.

There were a number of issues that compounded against the three Chinese women in this example:

1. The University of Iowa canoe – IF boating on the river was not allowed, (the reason the girls were arrested), then why did the University of Iowa fail to secure their property in order to ensure people were unable to use it? Suggest chaining the canoe in a canoe storage rack. Possible Duty of Care issue?

2. Rescuers often face communication difficulties in severe weather situations – effective training is paramount. It is not sufficient to state the difficulties were due to language – over the roar of a river – any language is difficult to comprehend. Rescuers also need to be able to cope with sight and hearing impaired people – similar techniques should be employed when language is a problem.

3. TV media appear morally bankrupt. Sadly this appears to be a global initiative of poor journalism. Take a picture and add your own caption and darn the consequences. Actual research into events and obtaining background knowledge – in this instance cultural knowledge do not seem to get a mention.

o I wonder how people would have responded to the three girls if it was reported that the girls could have lost their lives and their laughing was due to being severely embarrassed due to the attention and community disturbance their river ordeal had caused.
o I also have to wonder what the story would have been, had the students died

4. Police arrested the students because “boating on the river was not allowed.” How was this conveyed to the students? Were signs erected warning of the danger? Was there sufficient lighting to enable people to read the signs? Was the swollen river a regular occurrence, say during spring thaw, that locals are fully aware of, but new comers to the district may not be?

Situation 3*
After a major fire on campus, cultural differences hindered the investigation process. Several [International Programs and Services] staff members noted that some of the investigative team members all Americans) were not aware of the cultural differences that caused them to be misunderstood by internationals and vice versa. For instance, one detective, in interviewing a Japanese female, continued to talk very fast, even though he was asked twice to speak more slowly.

The student kept her eyes lowered as a sign of respect, but an American interviewer could very well interpret that reaction as a sign of nervousness, or question avoidance, or guilt, or lack of cooperation.
*Rabaey, J A 2001, ‘Explaining Cross-Cultural Differences at Times of Crisis’ in P A Burak & W W Hoffa (eds), Crisis Management in a Cross-Cultural Setting, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, pp.49-50.

I will risk a generalisation when referencing the “American” detectives as likely Caucasian, as they continued to talk fast even after being asked to speak slowly. African-Americans and Native Indian Americans generally have a more methodical method of communicating, which does not require the “pauses” to be filled with words. Culturally they (as a collective generality) believe the responder needs time to consider the question and their reply.

Western cultures often attribute eye contact as corresponding with a persons level of honesty. At the same time, sustained eye contact can be viewed as being “cocky” and over confident. In the Japanese culture lowered eyes are a mark of respect, particularly to an authority figure such as the Detective. In Papua New Guinea sustained eye contact can, at times, be viewed as a challenge against the person with whom the eye contact is being made.

What needs to happen to prepare for the possible recurrence of these incidents?

In all three cases access to basic cultural information was critical. This was supplied by International Programs and Services staff members from the university.

International people coming into our localities are not always “just visiting students on a temporary visa.” As communities continue to diversify, increased knowledge and acceptance of peoples cultural norms are vital. I believe this is too great a task to be left to providers of education services to international students. All levels of government need to co-operate in order to produce a practical set of “generalised” guidelines in print or web form and ensure it is distributed and utilised throughout cities, towns and communities throughout Australia. If they can contact every household with a census document every four years, then they should have no problem ensuring every “stakeholder” obtains a copy of the guidelines.

Stakeholders could include:
Emergency personnel – Police, Fire, Ambulance, Bush Fire Brigade, State Emergency Services; Doctors, Nurses, Midwives.
Education providers – Prep; Primary; Secondary; TAFE; Tertiary.
Public Trustee
Offices of the Coroner
Funeral Directors
Legal firms (including Migration Agents) and
Australia Post Offices (As some outback towns only have a post office and a pub, both proprietors wear many hats of responsibility)

The Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau have an interesting website covering Policing and Diversity issues.

The APMAB have created “A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity” June 2005 First Edition available on the New Zealand Police website:

What cross-cultural problem have you experienced? Share it with us.

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Preparing yourself and others

Consider this situation:

You work as a student counsellor in a TAFE institution on the Gold Coast. Last year one of your most successful and popular Japanese students drowned while swimming at a surf beach. This occurred during the November assessment period and affected the whole college. Many of the student’s friends approached your support staff for counselling and special consideration.Also, a number of your colleagues were subsequently affected by stress related illness.

What kind of preparations could be made for a possible recurrence of this event? What could you do:

Number 1 on the list – Have a plan.
1. Student records review.

a. What do we collect?
b. What don’t we collect?

i. Colour passport photo.
ii. Copy of passport
iii. Copy of Student Visa.

c. Why do we / don’t we collect information.
d. What are the obstacles / is the risk acceptable?

2. What is the USQ Critical incident policy?

a. Where is it located?
b. Who are the key members of any co-ordinating team?
c. Who is the media contact?
d. How are these people able to be contacted, after hours.

3. In the event of a serious injury to a student, requiring a long or indefinite hospital stay.

a. Who is responsible for the students personal effects?
b. Rental agreements, other bills, debts?

4. In the event of a death who can access emergency funds?

a. Are Student Guilds still supplying full insurance cover for students now that guild fees have become voluntary?
b. Who should secure students belongings, in the event of a delay in family arriving?
c. Are personal belongings to be stored on-campus or handed over to the Public Trustee?

To prepare yourself?

o Refer to “The Plan”
o Remain calm, responsive and strong (there will be time to deal with personal fallout (emotions) once the required actions are completed)
o Listen actively – understanding that people respond to shock in a multitude of ways.
o Speak in controlled / low vocal tones, clearly and slowly.
o Accept grief / shock behaviours and don’t be afraid to empathise. (A good descriptor of empathy is your pain in my heart)

To prepare your colleagues?

o Referring to Number 1 on the list – Have a plan
o Distribute / provide easy access to the plan.
o Provide a list of key contacts for each department or members of the co-ordinating team – including after hours contact.
o Provide a links to key resources.
o Train for the plan.
? Assist staff to be aware of common psychological reactions, including post traumatic stress.
? One of the PIER resources noted: This is a great site to understand the effects a critical incident can have on all.

To minimise the risk?

o When meeting to plan activities, consider what risks the students are likely to be exposed to.
o Further seeks to consider risks that may not be immediately obvious due to ‘local or common knowledge’. Local or common knowledge may be completely unknown to foreigners and Australians not familiar with the particular environment. Eg: Outback rural people holidaying at the Gold Coast for the first time.
o For visits to the Gold Coast

- basic instructions provided on the bus when you have the students attention are beneficial.
- A5 handout (pictorial concepts are ideal) noting:
- Lifeguard
- Flags – Swim between the flags.
- How to signal for help
- How to survive rips, surf boards and body surfers.
- Things that bite and sting (blue bottle jellyfish and sharks)
- Shark alarm
- Wear a hat, sunscreen and t-shirt
- Drink plenty of water
- Attending staff member / volunteers mobile phone number.
- Bus departure time (and street name if possible)

To deal with any cultural issues that may exist?

o If general cultural issues are not covered in “the plan” contact local (Gold Coast and Hometown of University) ethnic groups who may be able to assist.
o Where possible involve friends of the deceased / critically injured, this may be quite emotional for all involved but may also assist friends to go through the grieving process by ensuring appropriate cultural protocols are followed.

What could you not prepare for?

o The human factor.
o At times, no amount of risk awareness will quash bravado or the “having fun” element of life.
o People are human, sometimes no amount of training will guarantee a person will be able to function in a real crisis. Training helps prepare – it does not guarantee follow through.
o Misunderstanding culture with generalities. Eg: If a person comes from England, are they western minded and / or likely to be Christian? (Perhaps this one could be scratched off, if student records recorded ALL student details as noted in Number 1 above.)

How do you prepare yourself and others for unexpected situations?

Author: Eileen Hjertum - PIER Online Diploma student

Monday, July 2, 2007

Discrimination in International Education

What would be an example of indirect discrimination?

In classroom or workplace Favouritism, against to a particular race. On the grounds of race can occur when a rule or practice exists that appears neutral but in fact has a detrimental effect on persons of a particular race.

What is an example of a practice or behaviour that is not inclusive?

Discriminate by sex, marital status, religion, language, ethnic background, country of origin and disability.

Do you think an education institution in Australia would refuse an application for enrolment based on race? Why or why not?

An education institution in Australia would refuse an application for enrolment based on race is unlawful under the state and government legislation and discrimination. The Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act 1975 also makes discrimination on the ground of race unlawful in employment and education.

Please share your opinion. Have you experienced discrimination against international students?

Author: Rajani Rameswaran - PIER Online Diploma student

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ethical Dilema

Situation: A male Indian international student became a familiar face at our international counter, appearing with new students as a sort of mentor/friend/guide for any issues or queries they may be having. This was initially a positive thing as his English was clear and he already had some understanding of the university policies and guidelines. One day he brought with him a female Indian student who he said was his cousin, and asked us to have a look at her award certificate for the bachelor she undertook in her home country. The female student had not achieved the equivalent grade for entry into her masters program in our Institution, and had already been aware of this prior, as it was stated as a condition in her offer letter. Needless to say the Indian male student, thought there would be a way we could just 'let' his female friend in with the grades she had. I explained to both students that this was the requirement for entry into her program, and its university regulations we have to abide by. I suggested options were to choose another program or apply for credit and undertake a similar bachelor degree. As this was not the answer either students hoped for, things became quite 'heated' and they asked to speak to my manager. Our Admissions manager then called the 2 students into her office and reiterated what I had already explained. The outcome was as I had already explained, and the male student realised that he can't solve 'all' issues for his friends.

Four ethical principles that relate to the above situation (as outlined in the Code of Ethics from Charles Darwin University):

Integrity: The male student had already earned our staff's trust as had previously been very helpful for newly arrived students, this turned into a negative when he became disappointed with the answer I had provided.

Respect: Our staff always respect the ideas and values of our international students, and the male Indian student was aware of this, however he became disrespectful when he did not receive the answer he wanted.

Accountability: I took professional responsibility for my actions when the male student was unhappy with my response by approaching my manager. In turn my manager achieved the result needed by reinstating what had already been addressed.

Service Focus: I demonstrated relevant service skills by first listening to what the students had to say, then providing answers and options to their query. When this failed to please the students, seeking guidance from a higher level of authority solved the problem.

What would you do in this situation?

Author: Kylie Wilson - PIER Online Diploma student

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Factors that influence international students in Australia

What factors do you think are currently having a major influence on the numbers and types of international students that are studying in Australia?

* The proactive federal government approach to attracting international students and demonstrating a commitment to quality of education and support services has boosted numbers.

* The encouragement for industry to develop and deliver a diversity of programs and services for international students has helped broaden the industry to accommodate greater numbers.

* Current DIAC regulations are having an affect on types of students – e.g. greater opportunities for students to take up permanent residency have boosted numbers of students from countries with propensity to seek PR, in sectors and courses of study lined to skilled occupation shortages in Australia.

Author: Suzy Trier - PIER Online Diploma Student

Events that have influenced International Education in the last decade

Which historical elements have effected the numbers and nationalities of students over the past ten years?

Over the past 10 to 15 years a lot more pressure has been placed on education institutions to source revenue through overseas student enrolments due to industry competitiveness and changes to government funding. Additional elements which have impacted upon the numbers of overseas enrolment and nationalities include:

* ESOS Act and National Code - protecting international students
* Transnational Education - recognition for greater student diversity, raising Australia's profile, improving relationships, and availability of International Study Programs funded through the Australian Government
* AVCC Code of Practice

Are there any additional factors that have been influential?

* Seeking 'PR' status - points system
* Quality education - recognition of Australian qualifications worldwide
* Terrorism - Australian a recognised as a relatively 'safe place' in comparison to other destinations
* Tertiary entrance pathways
* Stronger relationships with offshore partners
* Australian culture - multicultural

Author: Tricia Hughes - PIER Online Diploma student

Education Agent Training Course Workshop 2007

International Education Services, the provider of the EATC, is pleased to announce the first ever EATC workshop

We anticipate that the Workshop will be held in a different location and/or region every year, to facilitate the growth and development of the EATC and to allow education agents from those regions to network and professionally engage with staff from various sectors of the Australia government and education providers.

The 2007 Workshop will be held in India, and is primarily aimed at education agents from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The workshops will be broken up into three parts:

Session 1
Professional Development session, with speakers from the EATC, AEI and DIAC


Session 2
Offering the EATC formal assessment in two sessions

Session 3
Afternoon cocktail reception

Attendance at Sessions 1 and 3 is free, although individuals wishing to attend do need to register. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

Attendance at the Formal assessment test will incur the standard AUD$400 fee to take the test.

For more information and to book your place now, visit

One week to go!

It is only one week to go before the closing date for applications and re-enrolments for the PIER Online Diploma.

Semester 2, 07 will commence on 16 July, and this semester will bring two new exciting subjects, giving students the opportunity to enhance their skills in different areas of international education.

Applications and re-enrolments deadline is Wednesday, 4 July. For further information please go to or email us on

PIER is looking forward to welcoming you to next semester.