Victoria’s international students want to be part of campus

Posted By TEU on Apr 28, 2016 |

Tertiary Update Vol 19 No 14

Vaelyn Luo sits in a spartan tutorial room with other members of the V-ISA executive, putting together a submission on Victoria University’s plan to privatise its foundation studies programme.

Their submission is detailed, packed with survey data and statistics, but the gist of it is that foundation studies students are “deeply concerned”.

Luo says the university announced its plan to privatise its international students foundation studies programme ‘like a bolt out of the blue’ two weeks ago.

Since then V-ISA, the Victoria International Students’ Association, has been scrambling to meet with foundation studies students and write its submission.

Luo has met with 40 of the programme’s 60 students. She says she was the one to break the news to them. The university had not told them of its plan before she met them.

The university’s plan only affects future students, not current or former ones, but Luo says their voices still matter.

“The current students are concerned about whether future students will receive the same quality of education and whether the cost will rise.”

Over three-quarters of current students chose the foundation studies programme because they intend to study at Victoria in the future.

They worry that there will be a mismatch between what they need to make that transition and what an unnamed private provider can provide.

For instance, says Luo, the foundation studies programme was originally at Karori campus and students were very frustrated that they had a long journey to use any of the university’s facilities and activities at Kelburn campus.

Since the programme’s recent move to Kelburn, foundation studies students have embraced access to these facilities.

Many belong to clubs, and half say they use services such as the Language Learning Centre, the International Buddy Programme, the gym, the library or health and counselling support on a daily basis.

Their ability to meet other students and be a part of the main university plays a huge role in them wanting to continue their studies at Victoria. They want to widen their network of friends beyond just the students in their classrooms.

Luo says if the university is having problems with its foundation studies programme then it should not push its responsibilities for those problems away to a smaller private provider in the hope that it can solve them.

“Which private provider has the resources and the decade of experience to compare to Victoria?” she asks.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Auckland University’s links to sugar tax lobby group
  2. Student fees rise 2.9 percent
  3. TEU shows Productivity Commission realities of the smart-board face
  4. TEU helps free imprisoned Turkish academics

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that three proposals to establish new Regional Research Institutes have been shortlisted and that applicants will now enter the business case development stage of the selection process – Steven Joyce


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