Eighty five per cent of Swinburne University of Technology’s international students who participated in International Education Resilience Fund (IERF) Employability initiatives have reported very high levels of confidence and knowledge about their future job prospects, compared to 11 per cent last year.
That’s just one outcome of Swinburne’s IERF Program, which supports the retention and resilience of onshore and offshore international students and improves hybrid teaching and learning delivery for students and academic staff.
Robust data like this was shared as part of a recent IERF showcase for staff, as well as a presentation to a group of visiting overseas education agents who promote Swinburne to prospective international students.
The IERF Program runs thanks to funding from the Victorian Government through Study Melbourne. This funding is intended to support the resilience and sustainability of Victoria's international education offering following the impacts of COVID-19 and Australia’s closed international borders.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education, Experience and Employability) Professor Sarah Maddison says that it’s fantastic to learn about the outcomes of IERF projects and review the impact of activities.
“This year we delivered an amazing range of activities that boosted existing programs and implemented new initiatives; whether supporting international students onshore, offshore and online; or academics with opportunities to upskill in Hyflex pedagogy,” said Professor Maddison.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) Dr Douglas Proctor says that the data highlights how much international students valued the many retention and resilience focused supports provided under IERF.
“We have hard data measuring student satisfaction with our IERF projects and events; achieving a satisfaction rate of over 91 per cent with events is proof these activities have made a difference to our students,” said Dr Proctor.
Dr Douglas Proctor, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), says international students value the IERF Program.
Mental health support
Virtual mental health program SilverCloud has helped over 100 students to date in 2022. Swinburne is the first university in Australia to team up with SilverCloud to provide engaged and future-focused digital mental health support to international students.
The program will continue to be available in 2023 with a suite of personalised tools and programs, providing 24//7 access to behaviour therapy programs that support mental health.
“I found SilverCloud so helpful! It gave me some good tools to manage my anxiety and stress,” one student said.
“I didn't know how much this platform could help my anxiety, but it has surprisingly helped,” said another.
Retention and Resilience support-focused outcomes
The IERF showcase highlighted achievements ranging from the creation of a tailored career support portal, to the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring program’s success in supporting international students starting at Swinburne, and publication of a handbook identifying support for Swinburne’s Higher Degree Research students.
Data on retention and resilience project outcomes includes:
Over 400 mental health counselling sessions with students
Over 400 students involved in peer-to-peer mentoring programs
Over 300 sessions assisting students with written and spoken English
Over 5,000 meal vouchers / grocery bags issued and Foodbank visits
27 students being assisted through AccessAbility services
High-tech teaching and learning
Five Hyflex classrooms are being created to offer an immersive learning experience and create a connection to the virtual space. Students will be able to participate in ways that support their work, care and health needs, including via virtual reality technology that allows students to partake in real-world simulated work experiences, no matter their location. Swinburne is also upskilling its educators to ensure the university’s multi-modal teaching is sector-leading.
Tech-enabled teaching and learning outcomes include:
1,150 students benefiting from innovation grants
219 virtual reality simulations
201 enrolments in Hyflex Pedagogy professional learning
Extra 864 sessional classes for offshore students in Semester 1 2022
The IERF Program activities in 2022, some of which will continue into 2023, demonstrate Swinburne’s dedication to people and technology working together to build a better world, and its continued efforts to put students first. Hyflex classrooms, Hyflex pedagogy professional development and resources, SilverCloud mental health platform, student journey mapping videos and resources, and a marketing and communications technology-integrated platform will all extend their reach in 2023.