Supporting international students’ school-university transition: An analytical framework

Mr Thai Van Vu1

1The University of Melbourne, Brunswick, Australia

The purpose of the presentation is to propose an analytical framework for understanding and supporting international students’ school-university transition. The framework is formulated from an adaptation and integration of Schlossberg’s (1981) Transition Theory, Chickering’s (1993) Theory of Identity Development, and Tinto’s (1993) Theory of Student Departure. Underpinning the proposed framework is Kotler’s (2000) services perspective, which highlights the cooperative roles of the service provider and the service consumer in assuring service quality. From this perspective, services are inseparable in that service delivery and service consumption are simultaneous, meaning both the service deliverer and the service consumer are part of the service. This calls for research into the roles of both the deliver and the consumer in service quality assurance. Supporting student transition tends to be conceptualized as a unidirectional process in which the institution is responsible for the student’s successful transition. A services perspective can gear this conceptualization to a bidirectional process by which both the institution and the student need to be deeply involved in ensuring the student’s successful transition. The proposed framework can be beneficial for international students in that it provides them with a step-by-step approach to navigating their transition from high school in their home country to a university abroad. The framework can also inform institutional policies and practices in the continuous development of the operational effectiveness and efficiency of student support services for international students’ transition. For those reasons, the framework can be of interest to those engaged with student transition into higher education.


Thai Van Vu is currently a PhD student of Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He was previously a faculty member at the USSH, Vietnam National University – Hochiminh City. He also worked as the Dean of the Foreign Languages Department, VATC and Broward College Vietnam. His research interests include international education, international students, student engagement, and institutional governance.

A professional development course for student services staff – growing our own

Dr Joanna Peters1, Mr Brendan Mosely2

1Griffith University, Nathan, Australia, 2University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Staff, and managers who work in Student Services in the tertiary sector (universities, VET) in Australia and New Zealand generally hold professional qualifications relevant to their role (education, social work, psychology, nursing, welfare, careers etc), and apply this training in their work with domestic and international students, students from diverse backgrounds, and students at all stages of their academic journey. Many have qualifications in more than one of these disciplines, and at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. However few hold qualifications that have been specifically designed and delivered for professionals in this context, unless they have enrolled in programs offered by institutions in the US or elsewhere overseas, either as formal study (eg Graduate Certificates or Masters in Student Affairs Practice or similar) or through on-line curse offerings (MOOCs).  While the importance of professional development in the form of on-the-job coaching/mentoring; professional networks/associations; professional reading/journals and general professional development is not contested, there has been, for some time, a call for an accredited professional development program specifically designed to meet the needs of Student Services practitioners in Australia and New Zealand, or at least a course that would offer credit towards a formal program of study.

This workshop will offer participants the opportunity to hear more about how ANZSSA has been progressing the development of a 10 CP for-credit course Student Support and Development, offered as an elective in a postgraduate qualification at an Australian university. Feedback will be sought about the alignment of the Course content with current trends in the sector in both countries, and with professional standards/competencies developed in the US and elsewhere for those working in student services/student affairs, along with participants’ ideas for promoting its uptake in the sector.


Joanna is currently the Director, Student Services at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Prior to working at Griffith, Joanna worked at the University of Queensland in the student support office, and before that in the VET sector in student services. Joanna has spent 30 years working in student support and development in post-secondary education, both as a practitioner and in management, and has been in a senior leadership position since 1993.  Joanna’s doctorate analysed leadership in student support and development services in Australia. She also holds postgraduate qualifications in psychology, counselling, education and management, building on undergraduate degrees in science, education, and arts.  Joanna is a Life Member of ANZSSA (Australian and NZ Student Services Association) having been part of the association for over 28 years. She was Co-Convenor for the ANZSSA Queensland Regional Group for four years, and earlier in her career was Secretary for ANZSSA (Qld).  She has also been a member of ATEM (Association of Tertiary Education Management) for 30 years, and of APSSA (Asia Pacific Student Services Association) for 10 years.  Joanna was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership (Professional Staff) at Griffith in 2016.

Brendan is Director of Campus Life at the University of Auckland. Campus Life provides a wide range of student services including Sport and Recreation, Accommodation, Health and Counselling, campus retail and many others. Some are commercial in nature but all have the aim of enabling students to have a vibrant and engaging co-curricular experience alongside their studies.

Becoming a competitive academic candidate – A workshop for doctoral candidates and early career researchers

Dr Catherine Gomes1, A/Prof Shanton Chang2

1RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, 2University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

The academic job market in Australia and New Zealand, as it is in the rest of the world, is incredibly competitive as it is confusing.  In 2015 alone, Australian institutions graduated over 8000 PhDs with this number set to increase over the years (Department of Education and Training 2016) while news of institutional restructuring leading to job losses dominate higher education.  Adding to this, the academic workforce is increasingly made up of people on casual, fixed-term contracts, or in teaching-only positions, who have limited job security, employment benefits, and/or prospects for advancement.  What is valued however are research track records which include funding successes in competitive grant schemes and high impact publications.  For doctoral candidates and early career researchers, achieving a good track record is challenging due to limited yet declining funding avenues.  A lack of funding makes conducting valued research and their ensuring publications difficult and sometimes impossible.  What can doctoral candidates and early career researchers do in order to stand out in this environment?  In this interactive workshop we discuss the ways doctoral candidates and early career researchers can build their profile to become competitive candidates for different types of academic employment.  Here we map the research funding and publication strategies necessary for participants to become competitive candidates for academic positions.


Catherine Gomes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication where she teaches Asian Studies.  She is leader of the Migration and Digital Media Research Lab.  Catherine was also an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2013-2016) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Singapore Management University.  Catherine has worked extensively on the themes of of identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, multiculturalism and transnationalism in Australia and Singapore as well as on the information-seeking behaviour of international students in Australia.

Shanton Chang is Associate Professor and lectures in Change Management and the Social Impacts of Information Systems at the Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne. His current primary areas of research include the Social Aspects of Online Technology, Online Behaviour, the Use of Social Media in Businesses, Education and Health, Information Needs and the Relationship between Cultures and Information Technology. He is particularly interested in how broadband technologies and Web 2.0 has impacted on education and health. Shanton consults on online behaviour of young people, online education and interaction across cultures. He is Assistant Dean (Exchange) at the Melbourne School of Engineering, overseeing the Exchange and Study Abroad Program for Engineering and IT students.

Improving student sexual wellbeing – A workshop on having conversations around sexual health

Mr Priyadi Prihaswan1, Ms Semra Tastan2

1HARP Unit, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Darlinghurst, Australia
2Student Hub, UNSW Sydney, Kensington, Australia

The majority of students are young adults and as such are at a key developmental stage in relation to personal identity and relationships. Issues related to sexual wellbeing will have a significant negative effect on the physical and emotional wellbeing of a proportion of students. If not resolved promptly and sensitively, these issues can affect both their success as learners and their participation in the broader campus life.

Specific issues which can negatively affect student wellbeing and success include:

  • unwanted pregnancy;
  • sexually transmissible infections (STIs), including HIV;
  • sexual assault;
  • forming and navigating relationships; and
  • exploration of sexuality and identity, including same-sex attraction.

Sexual wellbeing can be a complex topic to address in a campus context, particularly given the high proportion of people transitioning into young adulthood and independence, the diversity of life experience, cultural background and sexual orientation that exists within the student population, and the varying role-relationships which exist between staff and students.

This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to explore strategies to engage with students around sexual health. At the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Understand sexual health issues affecting students.
  • Refer students to appropriate sexual health information.
  • Identify personal and organisational capacity to respond to sexual health needs of students.
  • Apply communication processes to engage students in conversations around sexual health.


Priyadi Prihaswan has been working at the HIV/AIDS and Related Programs Unit, SESLHD as a health promotion officer for over 7 years. In his current role he is involved in a number of HIV, sexual health and viral hepatitis health promotion programs reaching diverse populations.

Semra Tastan joined Student Development International in March 2017, having previously worked in student participation and engagement at UNSW Sydney and Macquarie University. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the University of Sydney and has implemented a number of sexual health promotion activities for students and staff at UNSW Sydney. She is passionate about supporting the participation and success of international students.

“Make it Happen” – a pre-orientation program hosted by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to support the transition of mature aged students into higher education

Ms Julie McKenzie1, Ms Michelle Killen1

1University Of Southern Queensland, Springfield , Australia

This project was initiated to facilitate a non-academic pre-orientation program for mature aged students who account for approximately 60% of USQ students (over 25 years of age) with a majority being online learners.  While research indicates targeted support may assist student success (e.g. Tones, Fraser, Elder, & White, 2009), early connections and engagement for online learners is recognised as essential (Stone, 2017). With this in mind, the project sought to create connection and engagement opportunities for students returning to learning.  The resulting 2-day “Make it Happen!” program provides an opportunity for mature aged students commencing at USQ to: explore who they are as students; develop strategies and skills that will support and prepare them for their study journey; link with other mature-aged students; and enhance their ICT skills before commencement.  Heagney & Benson (2017) identified a student-centred model of support that addresses specific cohort needs, opportunities to build connections with peers (online and on-campus); and, practical based learning experiences that contribute to mature-aged student success.  This workshop explores interactive practical learning tools including a webinar series, that use visual activities and whole of group discussion to create a setting for participants to begin to explore notions of self and connect with peers. In small groups, facilitators will discuss how they successfully use these activities with mature-age students and explore how these may work in the context of other student cohorts. The USQ pocket guide a resource for mature-aged students developed as part of this project will also be showcased.


Julie McKenzie BA, MHumServ, GradDipPsych;

Julie McKenzie is the Associate Director Student Services at USQ and has been working in higher education for 10 years.  Julie commenced her career in the human services industry working with youth and people with disabilities. Julie has followed her passion for supporting mature aged students and has initiated and developed a pilot project which targeted mature adult learners enrolled at USQ, by offering non-academic supports that foster student success.

Michelle Killen: BA, BEd(Sec), BBehavSc(HonsPsych)

Michelle is the Student Services Advisor who runs the “Make it Happen” program at USQ.  She commenced her career 11 years ago in the education field before focusing her work in the community sector. Michelle has brought her knowledge of, and passion for, education and capacity building programs to her work with the mature age learners enrolled at USQ.

Building our resilience to support our students: removing the barrier of fear and inexperience in providing therapeutic interventions for students in an online environment


Mrs Kellie Cathcart1

1Whole Psychology / University Of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

It has been largely thought that clinician reluctance to step into offering e-mental health services to students has been about concern that technology will fail, privacy will be compromised or that it will replace the traditional modes of therapy. However, initial research has indicated that the largest barrier is the clinician’s self confidence in providing the services. Specifically clinician’s indicated that they were concerned about being unable to develop rapport and a working therapeutic relationship with clients as well as feeling they lacked the skills to use specific psychological techniques outside the face-to-face environment (Inglis & Cathcart, 2016). The aim of this workshop is to increase the confidence of the clinician in providing these services through having an opportunity to see examples of successful engagement and use of a range of therapeutic techniques, and through the practice of their own skills within these environments during the workshop. The workshop will focus on the following core skills:

  • Using basic counselling principles across text, audio and visual environments
  • Using the core components of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in an online setting
  • Using the core components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in an online setting
  • Preparing to act on risk of harm in an online setting.

Workshop participants will be asked to bring a tablet, phone or laptop to the workshop with access to Skype for participation in the workshop activities.


Kellie is a clinical psychologist who has worked in clinical, research and project work for over 15 years. Kellie has worked with both adults and children in a broad range of services across a number of modalities both within the public and private domain.

Kellie has also worked with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health on their Mindframe projects with the media, mental health and drama industries around responsible reporting and portrayal of mental health and suicide. She has also worked with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in the development and implementation of clinical trials of online therapeutic interventions for individuals with drug and alcohol disorders.

Kellie also works at the University of Newcastle both as a counsellor and guest lecturer. During this time Kellie developed, implemented and evaluated a unique and highly successful model for online counselling services offered to students. She has published work on this model and presented at major conferences over the past two years.

As the founder of Whole Psychology Kellie is interested in continuing her work in the online environment in collaborating across Australian and New Zealand Universities as well as within organisations and individual work.

Transforming education spaces for Pasifika – implementing a Pasifika Resource Kit within 3 tertiary institutions in Canterbury

Pauline Luafutu-Simpson1,  Ashalyna Noa1, Sam Uta’I2

1University of Canterbury
2ARA Institute

‘O le upega e fili i le po, ’ae talatala i le ao’ (The net that became entangled in the night will be disentangled in the light of day).

According to the NZ Tertiary Education Commission (2017: 7), Pasifika tertiary course completion rates have improved overall, but continue to be below that of non-Māori and non-Pasifika. From 2006-2015, the Pasifika course completion rate at Level 7 and above increased from 68% to 75%, while non-Māori and non-Pasifika completion rates increased from 85% to 89%. From 2006-2014, we see similar disparities in qualification completion rates. The Pasifika qualification completion rate at Level 7 and above (60%) was 23 percentage points below the non-Māori and non-Pasifika completion rate (83%). The understanding of effective teaching and learning strategies as well as effective culturally responsive pastoral care to support Pasifika students at tertiary institutions is critical if educational institutions are to aim for increased Pasifika success within their institutions.

A Pasifika Resource Kit was developed as a result of the findings from the main research project and the ensuing report – (Change Strategies in enhancing Pasifika Success in 3 Tertiary Institutions in Canterbury). The collective Pasifika student voice from the three institutions were the building blocks in the development of this resource kit.

Three areas recommended for transformative change to support Pasifika success were identified in the AKO research project – Transforming academic spaces, improving student services and Pasifika visibility. Recommendations around these areas formed the basis for this particular Pasifika Success Resource kit. The team successfully responded to an Ako Aotearoa RFP for funding from the National Project Fund and are currently engaged in the implementation and evaluation process of the toolkit.

This workshop will be interactive and an opportunity to unpack this particular Pasifika resource kit with the hopes that this will add to, build on, encourage and/or affirm current practices in the transformation of learning spaces within tertiary institutions for Pasifika students. Feedback and discussion is welcomed.


Ashalyna Noa- Kaiārahi Pasifika (Ako Project) University of Canterbury
Ashalyna is a New Zealand born Samoan, raised in Auckland and Christchurch. Ashalyna is currently working as Kaiārahi Pasifika (Ako Project) with the UC Pacific Development Team and studying towards her PhD at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies. Ashalyna is an executive member of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Inc and Christchurch Branch and has a passion to work with Pacific communities. She is also a proud foundation member of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation (PYLAT) Council who support Pasifika youth to participate in democracy and access leadership opportunities.

Sam Uta’i – Senior Academic Ara Institute of Canterbury
Sam is descendant of Sā Tu’u’ū & Sā Vaeafē. Born in Auckland, Sam finally settled in Otautahi/Christchurch and has been working at Ara for the last 20 years.
An advocate for Pacific peoples’ and Sam has been active in Pasefika development & education and her work with women.

Pauline Luafutu-Simpson – Acting Director Pasifika Development University of Canterbury
Pauline is a Samoan Kiwi (SAKI) born in Grey Lynn Auckland. Her family moved to Christchurch when she was 9 years old. Pauline was sent to attend school in Samoa as a teenager for three and a half years and attributes that as being a significant ‘game changer’ for her.
As well as working at the University of Canterbury, Pauline has a small company -G.R.A.C.E Unlimited Ltd and together with her husband develops and delivers cultural responsive training for staff and professionals from Education, Health and Community services. Pauline has always had an active interest in Education for Pasifika learners and Pasifika Community Development initiatives. Pauline is also currently enrolled as a PhD Candidate with MBC.

Defining, measuring and supporting international student success

Beth Isensee1, Nasreen  Mohamed

1University Of Minnesota, International Student & Scholar Services, Minneapolis, United States

Defining the international student success can be done from the perspective of the nation, the academic institution, the academic field or program. It can also be done from the perspective of the student and their family. The culture and expectations of each perspective combine to create nuisances in how we define student success.  As student services professionals, supporting international student success is core to our roles. We need to employ various strategies to support students while keeping in mind the individual needs of each student.  A critical aspect to improving international student success is to measure the outcomes of their experiences.  We must understand the students’ experiences, acknowledge the barriers they face and creating models of positive change.  Join this inteactive workshop to learn and explore the various student service approaches for defining, measuring and supporting international student success. After our exploration, we will share trends in U.S. model as well as the University of Minnesota’s specific approach to supporting students.  Throughout the session, we will also compare and contrast how the definitions, support and measurement of student success may differ between the U.S., Australian and New Zealand contexts. Through this conversation, we can explore what are some best practices on a global scale.

Learning Objectives of Workshop

  1. Explore the definition international student success
    • National, university, delegate perspective
    • Student and parent perspective
    • U.S. perspective and University of Minnesota perspective
  2. Understand different ways to measure international student success
    • Delegate and their institutions viewpoint
    • A U.S. perspective
    • A University of Minnesota perspective
  3. Learn the various lenses of student services professionals in supporting international student success within international education
    • Delegate and their institutions viewpoint
    • A U.S. perspective
    • A University of Minnesota perspective


Beth Isensee serves as Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Intercultural Initiatives at the  International Student & Scholar Services in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance at the University  of Minnesota. Her primary focus is valuing and integrating international students as critical aspect to  the University’s internationalizing the campus and curriculum effort. She collaborates university-wide  to identify the student voice through evaluations and assessment for the development of unit specific  strategic planning. Beth has worked within the field of International Education for 17 years and has a  M.A. in Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology.

Nasreen Mohamed is the Program Director for Student Engagement at the International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Minnesota.  He oversees the International new student transition process and participates in campus climate initiatives. Nasreen has worked for over 15 years in higher education has an M.A in Organizational Development.

VicWISE: Leadership to address employability challenges faced by international students

Ms Sharon Smith1, Ms Brooke Young1, Ms Anna McLeod2, Ms Manorani Guy3

1Monash College, Melbourne, Australia, 2Navitas, Melbourne, Australia, 3Asian Student Accommodation

Graduate employability continues to be a hot topic across the education sector.  Research shows that international students choose study destinations based on work rights, expected job outcomes and global portability of degrees. However, international students face challenges in securing work during their studies and following graduation. These challenges are becoming more pronounced given the growth across the sector. This is placing increased pressure on student and careers services and impacts on the overall student experience.

The Victorian Working Group on International Student Employability (VicWISE) was formed in May 2016.  It is a collaboration between the International Student Advisory Network of Australia (ISANA), National Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (NAGCAS), Council of International Students Australia (CISA), as well as the Victorian State Government and the City of Melbourne. Along with these groups, interested university representatives and higher education providers have joined forces to help raise awareness and take action to improve international student employability support and outcomes.

This interactive session will provide an overview of the challenges international students are experiencing and discuss the imperative for professionals to extend the capacity of the sector and community to help international students secure employment.  Examples of cross-sector leadership, advocacy and communication to key stakeholders on the benefits of employing and making work-based experiences available to Victorian international students will be discussed. Participants will share resources available, employer feedback, and ways that organisations have worked successfully with international students to develop solutions.  Ideas and actions that help increase access to volunteer, paid work and for-credit internships will be explored. Finally, workshop participants will be able to share best practice examples that exist in their own institutions.


Sharon Smith is currently the WIL Service Manager at Monash College, managing the delivery of over 1200 work integrated learning placements for Monash University Arts and Business Faculties. She has worked in the international education sector since 2001 and have extensive knowledge and experience in policy and program development and delivery, as well as research for international students at the City of Melbourne and the National Union of Students.  Sharon has led collaborative programs, such as the Student Welcome Desk at Melbourne Airport, and worked in partnership delivering research, programs and events with universities, peak bodies and student associations to address challenges and issues faced by international students and the education sector.  Sharon was the VicTas ISANA president from 2012-2015 and has been involved in delivery of ISANA national and state conferences, events and program, government submissions and reports since 2005.

Manorani Guy was born in Malaysia with Chinese/Indian heritage. She is the founder and director of “Asian Student Accommodation” (ASA) and “Asian Student Education” (ASE) in Melbourne and holds a degree in Psychology, Business Management and a Diploma in International Education.  She brings more than 20 years of professional experience in student accommodation/welfare and has developed her own in-house program to cater to the needs of international students in the 21st century within her business.  She began her journey as an international student herself in India at the age of 14 and migrated to Melbourne in 1987.Coming from a multicultural family background and having studied in another country, she brings deep direct cultural experience that has been one of the primary shapers to her life.  Mano shares a deep passion for all aspects of international education and during her spare time volunteers for the International Student Advisers’ Network of Australia (ISANA) a non-profit organisation. She is currently the ISANA VIC/TAS President and leads a team of 12 professionals who are volunteers on the ISANA committee. These members represent major divisions of international education. She sits on several committees and is involved in numerous projects/activities relating to international education in Victoria and Tasmania.   Mano believes collaboration is the key to effective use of resources and strives to connect people and organisations with the primary goal of improving the international student experience and to improve research in international education sector.  Cooking, eating out, live shows, leadership development, intercultural communication, living a sustainable and healthy lifestyle– these are her passions. She enjoys being with people and learning new things about the amazing world around her.

Respect. Now. Always.’: Working together to address sexual violence in university communities

Dr Renee Hamilton1

1Universities Australia,  Deakin, Australia

In February 2016, Universities Australia (UA) – the peak body for the higher education sector – launched the Respect. Now. Always. initiative to address sexual assault and sexual harassment. This initiative is a world-first, bringing together Australia’s 39 universities to address, and ultimately prevent these unacceptable behaviours in university communities. Respect. Now. Always. has three aims: to lift the visibility of support services; to obtain robust data to guide improvements in policies and procedures; and to share best practice.  As part of the Respect. Now. Always. program of work, UA asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to undertake a national survey of students on sexual assault and sexual harassment. The results of this survey will be released on 1 August 2017. In this workshop, Universities Australia will discuss the results of the survey and the program of work the sector is undertaking. UA is keen to work with conference delegates, both within and external to the higher education sector, to explore potential areas of collaboration; identify strategic priorities in the short, medium and long-term; and discuss potential work targeted at particular groups, including international students and the LGBTIQ+ community. This workshop is a unique and valuable opportunity for conference delegates to share their learnings with each other, with the aim of better supporting students affected by sexual assault and harassment.


Renee is the Director of Strategic Initiatives in Universities Australia, the peak body for the higher education sector. She is the policy lead on the sector-wide Respect. Now. Always. initiative that aims to address sexual assault and sexual harassment in universities. Prior to her role in UA, she worked on gender equality policy for the Commonwealth Government, including the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010-2022. Renee’s academic and professional background is in psychology and she has worked with vulenerable children, young people and families, including those who have experienced domestic and family violence.



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

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.