- The IEAA urges for peer-to-peer support for international students in the post-pandemic transition
- Domestic students show great concern for their international counterparts
The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) urges all institutions in Australia and New Zealand to provide peer support for international students during the post-pandemic transition. According to Janelle Chapman, president of the IEAA, international students in Australia belonged to the most vulnerable groups at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the gap in institutional support, domestic students have become more concerned with international students in crisis, especially those having difficulties making ends meet. Living far from their home countries and in social isolation have also caused mental health issues in several international students.
According to research by the IEAA, Australia’s domestic students have positive sentiments toward their foreign counterparts. They are also aware, to varying degrees, of the challenges international students are facing.
There is also a need for peer-to-peer support as already demonstrated by domestic students concerned about their international counterparts. Some have created support groups to help everyone cope during the pandemic.
Education providers, community organizations, and local governments have actually provided different forms of support for international students. These are learning, peer, social networking, and even mentoring support.
According to the report, 82 percent of 1,313 Australian and 981 New Zealand citizens had a shift in attitude with regard to the challenges international students face, particularly in terms of the difficulties associated with social isolation and separation.
The two-phase research titled “Student Voices” included different interviews with government agencies and key education players, as well as 4,300 domestic and international students at 15 universities, five technical and further education (TAFE) institutions in Australia, and four universities in New Zealand.
Results showed how domestic students can engage with international students to make them feel equally recognized as part of the community. The research also gives a clear picture of the need to support the ties between domestic and international institutions to provide structured peer-to-peer support to all students.
Several studies have shown international students’ susceptibility to mental health crises due to the pandemic. “It’s hard to live in a country where you don’t know the rules and where you’re operating in a language that is not your native tongue,” said Emma Swift, EdM, author of U.S. Classroom Culture, a NAFSA student guide. Swift added that the pressure of dealing with the pandemic is compounded by the lack of access to their support system.
International students facing difficulties should reach out to their peers or to their institution and ask for help. Agents should also offer full support to their students during these trying times.
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