What you missed at the CISA National Conference

WHAT did international student representatives, government and education industry stakeholders talk about when they met at the CISA National Conference in Brisbane last week? Leon Saw fills you in.

Photo: Leon Saw

SOME 190 delegates attended a national conference hosted by Australia’s international student peak body CISA in Brisbane last week.

The second annual conference of the Council of International Students Australia, the three-day event was well attended by student representatives from postgraduate, undergraduate, private college, TAFE, ELICOS and foundation level, as well as government and education industry stakeholders.

Outgoing CISA president Arfa Noor said the conference attracted a lot more interest this year.

“Last year, a total of 120 people attended the CISA conference. This year, we are almost at 190, so it’s quite a big increase,” Ms Noor said.

Ms Noor said the conference gave international student leaders the opportunities to network, exchange ideas, and grow, as well as provide a platform for the education industry and the government to “interact with international students directly and hear from them what they think is important to them.”

Highlights of the conference included an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) masterclass which provided international students tips on how to score in an IELTS test, an employment workshop to help graduates find jobs, student visa and migration information sessions.

International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) executive director and former Victorian state Minister for Tertiary Education and Training Phil Honeywood also spoke to Meld about transport concessions for international students in New South Wales and Victoria.

Representatives from government organisations such as Austrade, Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Department of Immigration And Citizenship, and Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency also gave students insight to their respective roles with regards to Australian education for international students.

Preliminary research findings about the employability of Australian international student graduates by Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education Senior Research Fellow Dr Cate Gribble, also confirmed what many international students already know anecdotally.

Opposition spokesman for Universities and Research and Liberal National Party Senator for Queensland Brett Mason acknowledged the role international students played in making Australia an “education superpower”, but later said in a Q&A with delegates that the Coalition would nonetheless focus on domestic students should it form government.

Outgoing CISA president Arfa Noor addressing delegates at the Conference Dinner. Photo: Leon Saw

In a written address to delegates, Ms Noor said it was “interesting times for the international education sector in Australia” with the continuing decline in student enrolments, the implementation of new government regulations and policy changes, and increased competition abroad.

Themed “The Future Leaders of Our World”, the focus of this year’s conference was aimed at “bringing the sector’s attention back to that which is most important; international students and their Australian experience”, she said.

Some of the delegates Meld spoke to said the conference was a success.

“The organisers did a great job,” Yuchang Ning, 36, a Monash University, Banking and Finance student from China, said.

“The workshops provided useful tips, and there were a lot of valuable lessons to learn.”

Wang Huiqi, 21, a business student from Victoria University, said the conference “was a good opportunity to meet people and other student representatives, and network”.

Ms Noor said the next CISA conference would likely be held in a different city next year.

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