Decentred attachments: international Vietnamese doctoral students’ connectedness and connectivity in Australia

Ms Lily Nguyen1

1The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

International students’ connectedness with people, places and communities in both home and host countries plays a critical role to their educational experience, psychological wellbeing and success (Marginson, Nyland, Sawir, & Forbes-Mewett, 2010; Wiers-Jenssen, 2003; Yeh & Inose, 2003). It is the benefit of both the home country and host institutions to understand the nature and forms of international students’ connectedness and better support them during and after the transnational sojourn. Research in this stream has mainly focused on undergraduate and master students, but little has been done on doctoral students. This presentation features part of my PhD project which investigates international Vietnamese doctoral students’ journey in Australia. It will focus on these students’ connectedness and connectivity in navigating their PhD study. The research is based on 38 one-to-one in-depth interviews with late-stage Vietnamese PhD students and new graduates from different Australian universities. The data were interpreted via the lenses of transnationalism (Vertovec, 1999) and the concept of transnational social fields (Gargano, 2009). The result of the study reveals the dynamics in the students’ feelings of attachment to their home and host country and how this consciousness impacts their pre-existing and new networks. Their connectedness is constructed idiosyncratically, influenced by their professional, educational histories, identities, and future orientations. There is a spectrum of feelings of attachment with home (Vietnam) and host country (Australia) that is interestingly expressed through the interviewees’ accounts.


Lily is a PhD candidate at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. Her research investigates international Vietnamese doctoral students’ learning experience and identity development in Australia. She’s now in her fourth year of candidature. Before her study in Australia, Lily worked as an English teacher for 8 years at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi, the same academy from which she received her first degree in International Politics and Vietnamese Diplomacy in 2004. From 2007-2009, Lily studied an MA in English Language Teaching at Assumption University of Thailand in Bangkok and graduated with distinction. She has also had extensive experience working as an interpreter for the Central Party Organising Committee. Her research interests are doctoral education, international student mobility, international student identity, Vietnamese HE, and English language teaching.

Bring it in-house! An under 18 guardianship case study

Ms Molly Bonnefin1, Mr Patrick Ashe1

1Monash College, Monash University, Clayton, Australia

In this presentation you will hear our insights into the increasing complexities of managing underage international students through the use of a third party provider and how we resolved our issues.  We will share the challenges we encountered in bringing the service in-house and provide practical advice on how we attained our goal of creating a student-centred program to help international students successfully transition to independently living and studying in Australia.  We will touch on the importance of parental involvement, working with accommodation providers to develop best practice support and pastoral care and maintaining strong relationships with our education partners and agents.   Our case study includes critical incident management, compliance with the National Code and the practicalities of ensuring guardians are all on the same page in providing a consistent and comprehensive service across five metropolitan locations. We will also share the techniques we use to help our underage students transition to independent living once they turn 18, by utilising the support networks available both in-house and externally. This presentation will interest institutions with underage students, their accommodation providers, student welfare, student engagement and student services staff who are looking for practical tips and recommendations or want to learn from our experiences in developing an in-house under 18 guardianship model and support service.


Molly has been providing support to international students at Monash College since 2001.  Her special interests are in the fields of under age students, homestay accommodation and helping international students to integrate into living in Australia.  She currently manages the College’s Careers Service as well as strategically planning new projects for the Student Services team.  Her previous roles include 13 years of administrative and student recruitment experience at Chisholm Institute. From 2009 to 2014 Molly chaired the ISANA Special Interest Group in Pre-Tertiary Students and Accommodation and since 2016 has been ISANA National Treasurer.

Investigating learning challenges facing tertiary mainland Chinese students and identifying strategies for overcoming them

Mr Shanal Dimitri Uduwana1

1Monash College

The Department of Education and Training’s 2016 international student enrolment data suggests that the number of mainland Chinese student enrolments in Australia significantly outnumbered enrolments of learners from other nationalities, both in the secondary and tertiary education sectors. A concern for Universities in coping with the large volume of Chinese students, is ensuring that students are able to transition and succeed within their chosen disciplines. Students from traditionally didactic learning backgrounds, often struggle with the lack of individualised support and guidance provided, hindering their overall achievements at University. This action research paper examines the challenges faced by mainland Chinese students in adapting to independent and collaborative learning styles demonstrated by students in Australian tertiary institutions. By researching first year, direct-entry Chinese students in the Monash College Diploma of Business, I aim to determine how their predisposed behaviour may contribute to challenges in adjusting to expected learner requirements of Australian tertiary students. This paper identifies possible strategies and tools for supporting these students’ transition, in overcoming their contextual barriers.


Shanal Uduwana is the unit leader for Marketing Theory and Practice at Monash College, where he has been teaching in the Diploma of Business since February 2016. He has a Masters of Secondary Teaching and a Bachelor of Business, both from Monash University. As a university student, Shanal was actively involved with the student union, where he supported students through academic progress and disciplinary hearings, as a Student Rights and Support Officer. It was this experience of supporting and mentoring both international and local students that fuelled his interest in teaching and development.  Shanal’s research interests lie in the area of international student education, ranging from learner contexts, to transition and integration. This stems from his classroom experience, both as a teacher and as an international student in Australia. Shanal is passionate about the use of digital technologies in learning and has recently found success in the use of video-based Kahoot quizzes, to support international students in applying their learning.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at

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