International Students at Partner Providers: An Unintended Experience of Australian Higher Education?

Tushar Kanti DAS
Australian National University, Australia
tushar.das@anu.edu.au

Abstract

Australia experienced the highest wave of international students on its shores throughout the last decade. Despite the rapid and much criticized growth in the vocational education sector in 2006-9, higher education sector consistently remained the most attractive to international students. For example, out of a total of 319,632 student visas granted in 2008-9, higher education sector attracted 133,860 students, the highest number of students in any single sector of education. Either failing to accommodate this huge number of international students on their own space or to attract these students to their non-metropolitan locations, a number of universities entered into partnership arrangements with other non-university higher education providers to tap these international students. In this showcase presentation, experiences of 24 international students of diverse background at 3 such partner providers would be central in engaging the academy to form a critical insight into the partner provider model of higher education in Australia. The presentation will combine the overall students' experience collected through in-depth interviews, ethnographic perspectives of an academic and an 'insider point of view' by administrators as evidence around the central question whether the learning experiences international students gain at partner providers are 'intended' or not.

Based on grounded theory, a thematic analysis of the data is done to demonstrate that the international students at the partner providers have varied experience not only about quality of learning but also about other aspects such as social inclusion, cultural exploration, language learning and confidence building. The presentation would conclude with recommendations for reformation in the partner provider model to ensure international students have a better and equitable experience of higher education in this globalized world.

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