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Yifan Kong,the girl holding the pink sign “Chinese students say yes” in the Campus Refugee Action Collective USYD Collective. (Source: Yifan Kong)

 

As the development of educational industry, a variety of foreign students have been onshore these years. However, in campus social life, you could hardly find a foreign face among the cheering crowds. Yifan Kong, as an international student who will be the candidate of the University of Sydney Union (USU), is a special whistleblower advocating more oversea students to take part in social activities.

  • Background Research

According to the Department of Education and Training, the number of international enrolments in Australia has risen sharply, reaching 433,954. China, India and Malaysia have become the top source countries with the proportion of 29%, 11% and 5%, respectively.

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Source: Department of Education and Training (February 2016)

In terms of the University of Sydney, international students accounted for 22.6% of the total students, ranking 7th on the list of Australian universities admitting international students in 2014.

Despite these high figures, international students fail to take part in many activities, and still stick to their fellow national groups (The Council for International Education, cited in Oatey & Xiong, 2006). In other words, they remain silent or even absent in university-wide social life. For instance, during the orientation week in February, students waiting to join the Sydney University Chinese Student Association (SUCSA) had to queue up to sign their names and pay the membership fees. Conversely, in the history of the University of Sydney Union (USU) Board, there has been no international member, said Michael Rees, current Board Director of the Board.

Unfortunately, very few reports have exposed in detail the international students’ social life experience. Compared to this low level of interest, Australian mass media are more likely to cover oversea students issues from revenue and economic perspective. When searching “international students” on theaustralian.com.au, typical news entitled “International students add record $17.5bn to economy” came at the first place on April 19th, 2016. Though cultural loneliness and absence problems have been noticed by academics, and they have called for helping international students on coping strategies (Sawir et al, 2008), Australian media seems still turn a blind eye to these issues.

  • Writing Angle

Bearing the previous points in mind, this profile feature will be a follow-up report of Yifan Kong’s USU Board election, tracing her motivation of joining the local-based student union as an international student, and demonstrating the difficulties she meets when diving into Aussie cultural campus.

In conclusion, the feature will try to capture the vivid life of an active Chinese international student, to encourage more international students to join the local campus life, and to advocate a more pluralistic campus atmosphere. Meanwhile, it will provide an empirical example for international students issue study.

  • Interview Approach

Face-to-face interview

  • Interview Style

Profile feature

  • Interview Subjects
  1. Yifan Kong and her election team members
  2. Grace and Marvin, students who tend to prefer fellow national groups
  3. A representative from the Sydney University Chinese Student Association (SUCSA)
  4. A professor who does research on international students issues
  • Main Subject Persona

Yifan Kong, known by her nickname Koko to her friends, is a Chinese girl born in 1996 and grew up in Beijing. After graduating from the high school affiliated to Beijing Normal University, she came to University of Sydney for undergraduate study in July, 2015. She was in the Anthropology department at first, but she changed her mind and transferred to the major of Finance and Mathematics in Business school because she tended to communicate with people, not merely with archives.

  • Preferred Online Publications
  1. Honi Soit.(a weekly student newspaper of the University of Sydney)
  2. Timezone (a Chinese participatory platform focusing on the life of overseas students)
  • News Value
  1. Timeliness

The final USU election will be held on May 18th (USU Board website, 2016), which is just around the corner. This could be a valuable news lead for the profile feature. The report could begin with a scene of Yifan Kong, a Chinese candidate of USU Board, preparing for the election anxiously with her team.

  1. Unusualness

Unlike her Chinese peers, Yifan Kong is active not in class, but in social activities. She is also the only one international student among the nine candidates of this election.

  1. Appeal to Readers

Yifan Kong comes from the Business School of University of Sydney. With regards to the proximity and the interest, this profile feature could be attractive not only to international students, but to some local students who are curious about their mysterious classmates.

  1. Impact

Firstly, this feature aims to evoke more international students, especially Chinese students, to take part in Aussie campus social life. It will also try to lessen the stigma of international students and portray their real life to the public.

 

Tags: international students, cultural blend-in problem, student society, the University of Sydney

 


 

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Scenes From Student Life: Home and Away

 


 

References

Australian Education Network. (2016). International Student Numbers at Australian Universities Retrieved from http://www.australianuniversities.com.au/directory/international-student-numbers/

Department of Education and Training. (February, 2016). Monthly Summary of International Student Data Retrieved from https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Documents/MONTHLY%20SUMMARIES/2016/02_February_2016_MonthlySummary.pdf

Get Involved in the Student Board (2016)Retrieved from https://www.usu.edu.au/Get-Involved/Student-board.aspx

Oatey, H. S., & Xiong Z. (2006). Chinese Students’ Psychological and Sociocultural Adjustments to Britain: An Empirical Study. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 19(1), 37-53.

Sawir, E., Marginson, S., Deumert, A., Nyland, C., & Ramia, G. (2008). Loneliness and International Students: An Australian Study. Journal of Studies in International Education, (12) 2, 148-180.

 

(Posted by Yang Liu, 450504864)

 

 

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