Swinburne hosts American students
Date posted: Monday 22 Aug 2011
When the mid-year intake of new students arrived at Swinburne University of Technology for the first day of class, there was a distinctly international feel to the group.
Swinburne is renowned for its diverse student body, but the accents of 116 first-year American students, from Northeastern University in Boston, are hard to miss.
The students are spending their first semester of higher education studying at Swinburne, foregoing the traditional entry into the American college system.
First-year Northeastern students have been coming to Swinburne since 2007 as a part of Northeastern's N.U. in program for college freshmen, though this year's group is by far the largest.
To keep a watchful eye on the students, Northeastern sent three professional staff and six senior student chaperones - who are tasked with keeping everything running smoothly.
One of those chaperones, Jess Cokins, is back at Swinburne after coming in 2008 as a freshman student herself.
"Studying abroad and being in your first semester of university, it's a lot to take on," she said. "It's definitely hard for them to adjust to coming here. They're 17 or 18 years old and they miss their families.
"But it's great. There's a lot of freedom at Swinburne. The professors are great, I love the way the tutorials are set up, and just living in Australia - Melbourne is my favourite place in the world."
To ease the students' nerves, Swinburne International's Eliza Russell said there were orientation and weekly activities in place to make them feel more comfortable.
"The program has been designed to really make it easier for the students. They receive a lot of support. All the students live on campus in Hawthorn and various social events and activities have been organised including trips to the footy, surfing, and to the Great Ocean Road and the Yarra Valley."
There is also the new Study Abroad office, a space for students heading off on exchange and for international exchange students studying at Swinburne, designed to help them find information on their new city and their new university, and to encourage them to socialise.
The N.U. in program is part of Northeastern's internationalisation plan, which requires all students who enrol mid-year to spend their first semester overseas. The students will study five subjects during their semester at Swinburne, including one on Indigenous Australia. They will also spend time volunteering for various charities including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, and at events including the Melbourne Cup and Around the Bay in a Day.
The volunteering work is compulsory for Northeastern students, who must do ‘Serviced Learning' - volunteering as a way of learning about different parts of the community.
"They really love it, the students really like meeting other people in their different service placements," Cokins said. "They get a lot of really great opportunities; they get to see the Melbourne Cup because they're volunteering there."
Swinburne's long-standing partnership with Northeastern also includes the Global Leadership Program, a dual Masters degree delivered by both Swinburne and Northeastern academics in Melbourne.
Northeastern is the fourth-largest private university in the USA, is recognised by Forbes business magazine as one of the USA's top five entrepreneurial universities and has been ranked in the country's top 100 institutions by the US News and World Report.
Photo caption: Senior student chaperone Jess Cokins has returned to Swinburne after coming in 2008 as a Northeastern freshman student.
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