Council welcomes international students back
The City of Melbourne has prepared a multitude of activities to help make Melbourne a welcoming experience for international students.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a series of initiatives at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 21, as part of the council’s 2023 priorities to make Melbourne the world’s best city for students.
Speaking to the motion, Lord Mayor Sally Capp addressed international students in the room, asking that as the council “implements these activities, [for students to] please participate and give feedback, so we can keep lifting the bar”.
At the end of the 2022 academic year, there were more than 106,400 international student visa holders in Australia studying at Victorian tertiary institutions; up 50 per cent compared to the same time in 2021 and now is at 70 per cent of pre-COVID visa numbers.
In December, the council endorsed a strategic framework to retain Melbourne’s place as Australia’s best student city and to position Melbourne as the world’s leading city for student experience in the global QS Best Student Cities Ranking.
Its “Making Melbourne the world’s best city for student experience – 2023 priorities” report, considered by councillors in February, underpins this ambition, focusing on the four key areas of advocacy, student wellbeing, employability and marketing.
“Prior to the pandemic, more than 150,000 international students lived in Victoria, contributing $13.7 billion a year to the state’s economy. We’re determined to get back to those levels by making Melbourne the world’s best city for student experience,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.
“International students are part of the lifeblood of Melbourne, adding significantly to our city’s cultural vibrancy and atmosphere.”
“We know their strong return will also have significant economic benefits – creating jobs and driving up spending at city businesses.”
The list of activities includes:
- The My Melbourne program – free tickets to major events.
- The Lord Mayor’s Student Welcome at the Queen Victoria Market’s Summer Night Market.
- A speed-friendship session as part of Melbourne Conversations.
- O-Week stalls where councillors met with students at RMIT and The University of Melbourne.
- International Student Summit
- Employment seminars and health and wellbeing sessions at The Couch International Student Centre.
- Councillors Philip Le Liu and Davydd Griffiths welcomed students at the airport upon arrival.
Easing the transition back to university for international students is of high importance this year with 2023 marking a 33 per cent increase on the student numbers seen last year.
More than 104,000 international students have chosen Victoria for their studies this year, with students from India making up the largest cohort, followed by students from China.
Parkville and Carlton saw a rise in activity in February, with students racing to experience the fun that comes with O-Week, at RMIT, Monash University and The University of Melbourne.
Within its 2023 O-Week, Monash University’s Parkville campus, which is home to Monash’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, welcomed a record number of students, with the highly anticipated return of international students adding to its success.
To assist with international students coming to study at the campus, Monash specifically dedicated Friday, February 24 to international students and those who are studying pharmacy on exchange or transfer from the Monash Malaysia campus.
“We’ve already seen the popular student suburb of Carlton hiving with pedestrian activity over the past few weeks. In early February, foot traffic there has gone over 23 per cent of benchmark levels,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.
It is for this reason that the council is ensuring the return for students is a welcoming one.
“As international students return to our shores, we want them to feel supported and appreciated, with a Melbourne experience that is overwhelmingly positive,” the council’s education and innovation portfolio lead Cr Davydd Griffiths said.
“We’re proud to work closely with our international student community to make them feel at home, showing them everything our great city has to offer, from our world-class restaurants to our spectacular events.”
“To maintain our status as Australia’s number one student city, we must continue to explore new activities and advocacy work which improves the experience for all students.” •
Caption: Monash University’s Parkville Campus O-Week.