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Support Services for International Students

International students often experience culture shock and loneliness when starting a new course in a different academic environment and living culture. There’s no need to worry though, plenty of help and support is available. Remember that you are not alone — there are many international students in the same position, and probably even some local ones who are also feeling a bit lost.

What you can do to ease the transition
  • Join a student group, such as a sporting club or the international student association at your institution. The quicker you make friends the quicker you will settle into your new environment.
  • Talk to people — you will find most Australians to be friendly and open, and happy to have a chat.
  • Participate in some Australian activities — whether it's going to a football game or visiting an Australian art gallery, any activity will give you an insight and understanding into your new home.
  • Even if English is your second language, don't be afraid to use it! Making mistakes is part of learning.
  • Remember that academic life in Australia is probably different from in your home country. Australian students are encouraged to speak up in lectures and tutorials and are more independent learners. Most education providers have academic transition programs that give you help and advice on everything from essay writing to exam preparation.
What types of support services are provided for international students? International Student Hotline

1300 363 079 - Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm

The Australian Government is committed to providing the highest quality education system and making sure that international students receive the support they need while they are studying. If you are having problems with your study, safety, accommodation or at work, you can call this number, which is operated by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) There is no need to give your name or personal details when calling.

Information and advice for pre-departure and arrival

Most international student support units provide information and support for students, which may include:

  • advice on travel arrangements, passports, luggage, valuables, Australian currency and getting through customs on your arrival
  • airport pick-up services (offered by many but not all institutions) and other transport options
  • help with organising temporary accommodation.
  • quires one year of full-time study.
Orientation programs

Every institution runs an orientation program for newly arrived international students. Orientation programs are usually held a couple of weeks before the start of semester to give students a chance to settle in before classes begin.

Typical orientation programs offer:

  • information sessions
  • guided campus tours
  • faculty-specific orientation
  • library tours
  • social activities
  • introduction to services and facilities
  • opportunities to meet academic and other university staff and student representatives.
Mentors and help from other students

Many education providers have student groups that give international students the opportunity to meet other international and Australian students. These student groups run regular social gatherings and organise activities (such as trips, meals and sightseeing) to help international students make friends and settle into their new environment — and have some fun in the process!

Counselling services

International student support offices provide counselling services with qualified and experienced professionals. Counsellors offer free, confidential counselling and advice on personal, social and academic matters, such as:

  • culture shock
  • depression, stress and anxiety
  • relationship/family problems
  • accommodation problems
  • academic difficulties

Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation and loneliness that you may feel in the first couple of weeks of living in a new environment. This is a very common feeling and will pass when you get more settled into your new home. Make sure you talk to friends, family and the support service staff at your education provider.

English language skills

The international student support units of many institutions offer services to help international students practise and improve their English language skills. These language groups encourage international and local students to meet and practise their language skills while learning about other cultures. Even the most skilled English speakers may struggle to understand people at first because of the distinct Australian accent.

Australians use many slang expressions and speak quite fast, so asking people to slow down or repeat what they have said may be necessary. Don’t worry — you will soon get the hang of it.

Help for accompanying family members

In addition to helping international students, the international student support services of some universities and colleges offer support services for family members who accompany students to Australia.

Support for family members typically includes services such as:

  • English conversation classes
  • social meetings, activities and excursions
  • counselling services to help with any problems such as culture shock, homesickness, difficulty adjusting to lifestyle and cultural differences, employment etc.
Information and advice for returning home

Most institutions provide international students who are finishing their studies with information and advice about returning home. Seminars and brochures available to international students include information about readjusting to your home country, gaining employment, migration issues and alumni services.


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