“The path to career success is not an easy one for international students and graduates in Australia” (Gribble, Blackmore and Rahimi 2015). According to Rumble and Harry (2018), the number of international students who come to study in Sydney have crossed about half a million. It has emerged as one of the significant locations for higher educations. This section of the paper is going to elaborate on discussing about the opportunities and issues that are faced by the international students who comes to study in Sydney. The main aim of this literature review is to explore the experiences of the international students for revealing the challenges and difficulties that they face while coming to complete their studies in Sydney and with the same, it shall also shed light on the supports available for them in this city.
Learning and Socio-Cultural Adjustments
International Students who come to study in Sydney, also bring a rich cultural paradigm along with them and they highly aid to the economic development and cultural diversity of the city. This enhances the approach of the learning, and also shapes their own expectations from their lecturers, support staffs and administrators. After the enrolment of these students in Australian international education program, they face with a significant challenge of new academic and cultural domains. Acculturation, language, social cultural adaptation, communication, adjustment and learning problems are some of the very common problems faced by them (Baylis, Smith and Owens 2017). The need for English language standards however make sure that the students are well-prepared for the great cultural shift which they are required to make for successfully adjusting with the education system of Australia, but the finding of several researches have highlighted that the issues are much more complicated than just proficiency in English language. The style of learning, level of participation and collaboration, independence and structured learning are some of the more extensive subjects of conflict. With the same, the students belonging from UK or USA might not feel any difference in terms of adjusting socio culturally in Sydney but the students who are from Africa, Asia and from the other European nation experience a cultural shift. Most of the students tend to feel lonely, disturbed and might also suffer from homesickness as well.
With the same, most of the students coming from abroad do not have English as their first language. Most of the international students belong from Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Pakistan, India, France, Sweden, Germany, Vietnam and Kenya. Hence, they are more fluent in their own language rather than in English. Though it is mandatory that every students should be qualified in English proficiency test in order to get Australian visa, still the Australian style of speech, the accent, the lexical differences are troublesome for most of the international students. In Sydney, student get their tutorials and lecturer motes in English medium only. They do not get any other option to choose from. Therefore, there are some international student who have complained that the professors in the Sydney colleges speak too fast and that they make use of come idioms and abbreviations that they are not familiar with. Hence, the English language proficiency has a great impact on the overall experience of the quality of life that the international students get in Sydney.
It is to mention that as per David (2014), educational system differs from one nation to other. The educational system of Sydney too, has its very own distinctiveness that makes it different from rest other educational systems. As because of the fact that the international students come from different backgrounds, they feel quite confused and takes time to get accustomed with the education system of Sydney. More often, they are directed towards working independently or in some specific groups for completing their assignments and tasks. Hence, they are required for critically evaluating all the situations and present an appropriate solution. There are many students who get unsuccessful in coordinating in proper manner and in this way, their performance gets deteriorated.
Individual Problems and Safety
Individuals’ problem or issue are very common for every aspiring individuals wherever they go and this is no way different for the international students as well who intend to visit Sydney. There are hundreds of students who feel lonely and isolated or homesick while completing their studies in Sydney. This is particularly more common for the individuals who do not have the habit of staying away from their families. Also, there are many student who fall ill or sick due to change in climate as they are not habituated to it.
Moreover, safety is one of the other significant concerns for the students who comes from international boundaries to Sydney. According to Fish (2015), the authorities of the Chinese consulate in the Sydney city was asked for providing better protection for the students after getting the reports of extreme cases of assaults and robberies there. Above 175,000 international students in New South Wales, and Chinese international students make the greatest group at most of the universities of Sydney (Moodie, 2017). Moreover, in this context, it is to state that the issue with safety is present deeply in the minds and hearts of the International Students. Although there are many students who gain the awareness of the unsafe areas in Sydney right before entering into the Sydney but there are also many who have no idea about the same. In a survey conducted by Ryan et al. (2016), few of the international students have claimed that they have heard Redfen is an unsafe area in Sydney. They have expressed their strong concern in regards to the safety issues.
Accommodation and financial hardships
Recent studies indicates that the international students often find it difficult to gain suitable accommodation in Sydney. Chavez and Menjivar (2017) have claimed that “Due to their lack of understanding of rights and responsibilities, average age and inexperience in living away from home and/or renting properties in Australia, international student are often exploited, discriminated against and through this, face many diverse problems when securing adequate housing and residing in Australia”. Also, according to the study of Yadav et al. (2018), on the issues faced by Nepalese females has revealed that finding accommodation in Sydney was the most difficult challenge that those students ever faced for coming to study here as they are unaware of the places in the city and hence, were unable to make things work on their own. Also, the students from Indonesia, too, had faced similar difficulties. With the same, there are several cases reported where it has been claimed that because of high cost of accommodation in Sydney, students are bound to share their room or accommodation with too many people. Many students, particularly the ones who belong from the Asian nations live collaboratively. This is often perceived to be unfortunate by most of the international students who seek for integrating into the local Australian community and improve their proficiency in English. With the same, this also has a very detrimental impact on the privacy and study habits of the international students. Furthermore, it is also to mention that the students belonging from international boundaries also experience some sort of racism and discrimination in Sydney city and questioning on their financial stability. According to Tran and Nyland (2017), “International students are often subject to exploitation in their search for accommodation”. They have claimed that “There are lots of people that are taking advantage of this group of students. Some people are renting really low standard housing and charging high above market rates. We have heard of people converting a garage with no windows and put students in, just basically exploiting them. I read about in the City for instance, one of the city apartments that ends up having about 10 students living in”.
According to Deresky (2017), international students who come to study in Sydney also face financial difficulties to a significant extent. For making their ends meet, most of the international students work in low-paid temporary jobs during their study period. As per Inglehart (2015), 70% of the respondents have said that they had undergone financial issues during their study in Sydney. It is also to mention that financial hardship is much more complex as because of the fact that in the New South Wales, the international students are not given the eligibility for travelling concessions.
There are several challenges with the public transport that rotates around their accessibility and costs. Both the service providers as well as the students have shared this view alike. It is also to mention that the overseas students have claimed the cost of public transport in Sydney to be too high and hence, were greatly disappointed for not being eligible for the student travel concessions that are provided to the international students by most of the developing nations. With the same, as per the study of Benson Chappell and Yates (2018), some international students have reported that they found difficulties in understanding the rail and bus systems of Sydney. One of the international student in the survey had commented that “The instructions such as notice boards, announcements, and signs on the bus stops are not being very clear. The announcement system here is not clear either so it’s hard to understand when they announce the following stop in the train. Here there are many different lines, so it is a bit confusing”. In addition to this, the service providers too have claimed that there have been several incidents in Sydney with the ticket inspectors there that have distressed the international students to a great extent.
It is to note that the window of opportunities for these international students for meeting the other students comes from their respective institutions or universities where they get support services. There are some universities in Sydney that develops different programs for these students. These students use these programs as a main source to meet other local students. However, more often they meet with the international students instead of the local ones. Also, there are several students who go to churches for integrating into local communities.
Social isolation greatly impact the study outcomes of the international students. Most of the students who leave their own nation in order to study in Sydney often face this challenge. As per (Harmon 2015), “Social connections affect academic work so much because if you don’t have anyone else that you can say ‘do you understand that the same way I understood it”, and if you don’t have anyone to ring up and say ‘I missed first half of the lecture, can you give me the notes’, if you don’t have anybody that you can study with before an exam you are at disadvantage.” There are thousands of students who feel lonely and isolated or homesick while completing their studies in Sydney. This is particularly more common for the individuals who do not have the habit of staying away from their families. However, it is to mention that there is a Super V Multicultural Volunteer Program in Sydney that helps the volunteers belonging from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds for contributing to the local communities. They provide these international students with opportunities for meeting new friends and then establish some new supportive networks. Moreover, it is also to mention in this context that by means of the Local Community Grant program, the Sydney Multicultural community services and UTS have been granted funds on the projects for addressing the shortage of accommodation and tenancy detail problems that are faced by the international students.
Safety is one of the other significant concerns for the students who comes from international boundaries to Sydney. It is present deeply in the minds and hearts of the International Students. To address the issues in context to Safety in Sydney, Safe City works with the international student colleges and the Sydney Police in providing security and safety advices and translating the information sheets (Ryan et al. 2016). The police presents the materials to the international students who newly arrive in the city and then provide them with necessary advices regarding the ways of protecting them as well as them properties. With the same, the Safe City staffs also attend the “student orientation days” on different campus that are in partnership with the Police and this makes it an another mean of disseminating the security and safety advice. Some of the special initiatives in this regard are-
- Translating the Student Safety Sheets that are developed in eight different languages
- Distributing the Student Safety Sheets to the international universities and colleges in Sydney
- BizSafe workshop for the business community that is Chinese speaking
- The “Steal From Person Campaign” that targets the international colleges and universities
Sydney has produced different multilingual information for the individuals who comes from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds, comprising of the community directory in ten different languages. With the same, it has also produced Telephone Interpreter service information cards in sixteen different languages along with the multilingual welcoming posters. These information are spread to different community services and organisations.
Hence, from the above analysis it is to state that the lives of the overseas students in Sydney are very challenging. More specifically, lack of proper accommodation seems to be the most significant issues that they face. Accommodation in Sydney was the most difficult challenge that those students ever faced for coming to study here as they are unaware of the places in the city and hence, were unable to make things work on their own. There are many studies that suggest different needs and requirements for the international students. The most common issues and challenges reported by most of the international students studying Sydney are that of finding accommodation, social isolation, financial hardship and public transport. Cultural and language barriers, along with the shortage of knowledge regarding the rental market and how it works in Sydney, plus their unfamiliarity with the tenancy regulations over there create real difficulties for the international students to survive in Sydney City. With the same, acculturation, language, social cultural adaptation, communication, adjustment and learning problems are some of the very common problems faced by them. One of the most effective way for ascertaining this is by conducting an analysis for their needs that would involve both the student, education as well as community service providers. This would ensure a well-balanced view to be gained and this might help them in addressing the requirements of the international students more properly while planning their future support systems.
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