Helping international students pass their toughest test

Thursday, 10 September 2020

The City of Greater Geelong is supporting international students in our region with a series of new Study Geelong initiatives aimed at addressing hardship and feelings of isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its $5.2 million COVID-19 Community and Economic Support package announced on 30 June, the Council allocated $133,000 for programs to assist international students.

This funding is being used to plan and carry out several relief actions through Study Geelong, including:

  • A new International Friends Program matching international students with a community member or family, based on interests or area of study. It’s intended this will become an ongoing program aimed at reducing isolation and creating connections in the local community;
  • Online engagement including a Study Geelong ‘Aussie Communication Bootcamp’ to increase social opportunities while face-to-face interaction is limited; and
  • Dedicated social media activities to increase awareness and take-up of available help and services, including emergency food relief.

A new COVID-19 resources page for students is now live.   

It features links to services and information from the Department of Health and Human Services, Study Melbourne, and a number of national and local food relief, mental health, accommodation, legal and employment assistance providers. 

The support package will also transition to face-to-face small group connection activities when it is safe to do so.

These activities will aim to build friendships, help students explore the region, and open the door to participation in ongoing social and sporting activities with members of the local community.

The City of Greater Geelong is also supplying laptops to international Deakin University students who need them.

Greater Geelong attracts around 4000 international students each year, studying at 13 different secondary and tertiary institutions.

Based on information from our Study Geelong partners, it’s believed there are around 2000 international students in Geelong at the moment.

In an average year it’s estimated the students and their visitors contribute around $128.2 million to the local economy, supporting 721 jobs.

Study Geelong is an initiative of regional tourism industry body Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine, which is supported by the City of Greater Geelong.

Mayor Stephanie Asher:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on Greater Geelong’s international student population, with many facing financial hardship as a result of lost employment.
Sadly, we’re also being told there are increasing isolation and mental health concerns, with students studying online and away from their families and other networks.

Our local education institutions are doing what they can to help their students, but the Council thought it was important that we also do something to offer support. We hope the relief and recovery programs being run by Study Geelong will make a genuine difference.

Councillor Trent Sullivan, Chair, Tourism and Events portfolio:

Through these initiatives, we’re aiming to give Geelong’s international students a better understanding of the services available to them, such as food relief and mental health, financial and legal assistance. There is help out there and we want to encourage students to take it up.

We also hope to support students in feeling less isolated, more connected and part of our community during this very difficult time. Hopefully as a result their studies will benefit as well.

Page last updated: Thursday, 10 September 2020