UTS HELPS U:Connect
Daisy Dang, MaryAnn McDonald and Kaitlin Moore — University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo
UTS HELPS developed the HELPS U:Connect programs to enhance the language skills and confidence of international students through regular conversation with volunteers in group and one-on-one settings. More than 4,500 students and 2,000 volunteers have taken part since 2014.
During the pandemic, over 850 participants demonstrated the need to stay connected online across student, staff and alumni communities.
Conversations@UTS offers free conversation group sessions, recording over 1400 attendances this year including students currently studying offshore. Many students attended up to three sessions per week to improve their fluency, make friends and learn about living in Sydney while volunteers enjoyed the break from work or study and the cross-cultural experience.
The UTS HELPS Buddy Program matched student and volunteer 'buddies' for weekly catchups or language exchange. This year over 500 buddies met regularly online, further highlighting the importance of these connections at a time of significant disruption.
UTS HELPS isn’t just supporting students with language skills development, but also creates a feeling of belonging and a real sense of community for all.
COVID-19 Student Welfare Plan
Kaplan Leadership Team (representative James Adonopoulos featured) — Kaplan Business School, Sydney
As part of its COVID-19 response, Kaplan Business School delivered a student welfare plan to support their students and maintain academic standard throughout the pandemic.
Within three weeks, Kaplan Business School delivered a support package which catered for their student cohort (97 per cent of which are international students). The $6 million financial support plan included tuition relief for all full-time students and a hardship fund for students who had lost their job or had their working hours reduced. Students were also supported by replacing all textbooks with free resources, hosting 196 extracurricular webinars, and facilitating 24/7 emergency support.
The plan helped students stay focused and positive while they continued their studies, knowing the school was there to support them. At the same time, the school saw their overall pass rate rise to 90 per cent and student satisfaction with teacher quality rise to a record 4.6 out of 5.
Macquarie Student Success Support Package Initiative
Macquarie University, Macquarie Park
In response to the unprecedent impact of COVID-19, Macquarie University combined forces and resources across the university to create the Macquarie Student Success Support Package (MQSSSP) and effectively address the needs of the international student cohort.
The package provided students with streamlined access to practical support including vouchers and grants, relieving students from financial concerns due to the pandemic allowing them to focus on their studies.
The MQSSSP combined with the University’s Wellbeing App to provide instant advice and referrals to students across a range of wellbeing issues such as stress, productivity and anxiety. More than 3,000 international students have used the app since its creation in March.
By working together to provide financial, professional, and social support, the University was able to positively impact the international student experience during a very challenging time.