Go Study Australia

Supporting Students Via Grass Roots

The first International Student Hub in NSW has finally arrived and it has big plans to support and empower thousands international students studying in Sydney and wider NSW.

International Student Hub

The International Student Hub has been formed by grassroots collaboration between more than 50 organisations including civic groups, non-profits, community associations and education industry representatives. The idea for the hub came to life in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Federal Government’s response to Coronavirus, which left hundreds of thousands of students without work, income or means to support themselves.

The Sydney Hub aims to support students suffering from issues such as wage exploitation, low accommodation standards and social isolation; while empowering students to have transformational experiences during their studies in Australia. Unlike other hubs in Australia, the Sydney International Student Hub is entirely driven and powered by students and volunteer members of the Australian civic societies.

While other states have been running Support Hubs for International Students via government led initiatives, NSW surprisingly has not had a student hub, despite benefiting from hosting the highest number (approx. 37%) of international students in Australia.

Diana Olmos, a former international student from Colombia, and International Student Community Organiser from Sydney Alliance has been pivotal in the formation of the Hub.

“It’s more important than ever that we give students a voice and a space in this city to help ensure their experience in Australia is positive and life-changing. The Hub is not just a place for students to share their problems, but a place where we can engage in capacity building, social cohesion between people on visas and citizens, leadership workshops and meaningful projects to enhance the student experience in this city”.

Go Study’s key role

From Go Study, as an education agency that facilitates thousands of international study experiences for students each year, we are providing over 400 sqm of space and resources to host the Hub and its members for the pilot program.

“The goals of the Hub are strongly aligned with the goals of many agencies and schools who support students on a daily basis. We are proud to donate a significant part of our vibrant student support space to the creation of the Hub. There is such a positive energy, with 50 or more action driven people from different cultures coming into the hub each day, and working together to empower and support great projects” says Simon Costain, General Manager of Go Study.

“At Go Study we have a large space with usable classrooms that is perfect for huge groups, workshops and functions. Our goal is to provide an amazing space for the Hub, so its members can make an amazing difference to the international student experience. By supporting the pilot program, we hope to assist the Hub to secure funding and establish permanent operations well into the future.”

Funding and Activities

Thanks to support and endorsements from over 50 community groups and businesses, the Sydney Alliance, in partnership with Sydney Community Forum was able to secure a grant of $100,000 from City of Sydney to get the pilot program running.

“The money will be used to pay for a professional social worker to support students in crisis and a community worker to facilitate social cohesion inside and outside the hub. We will run a busy schedule of capacity building workshops, community events and a range of activities that will improve the experience international students have in Sydney. While $100k is a good start, we actually need a total of $200k to fully resource the Hub. We are looking for additional funding so we can meet our goals for the pilot program and its sustainability in the long run”.  says Ms Olmos.

One of the first key initiatives the Hub will undertake is a series of nationality based “listening” events to fully understand the challenges unique to different student cultural groups. The first of these focused on Nepalese students, and saw more than 40 students contribute to discussions and focus groups about their experience in Australia. 

Other activities run by the Hub include hosting intensive leadership and civic action workshops to empower and inspire students to make change with the support of the Australian civil society, and a large-scale experience mapping project, where over 80 students will engage in a 6-month project to examine the student experience across the City of Sydney and develop recommendations on how it can be enhanced.

International Students contribute more than $40 billion to the Australian economy and we should value and support them in their journey”, says Mr. Costain from Go Study Australia.  “This project is unique as it is led by community groups from the ground up, and not a top down approach from the Government.  We are calling on all stakeholders to support this hub, from colleges, to insurance providers to former international students.  The Hub needs to raise an additional $100,000 so to resource the pilot program, then look to secure permanent funding from NSW Treasury and industry partners.”

Anyone able to support the hub, through financial or other means may do so by contacting Diana Olmos dolmos@sydneyalliance.org.au

You may also donate directly by visiting: https://www.sydneyalliance.org.au/fosa_annual