ABC’s “Cash Cows” documentary which aired last night casts an unflattering light on international education in Australia.

Click here to see watch 42-minute episode, Cash Cows.

It highlights a concern that underpins a key reason we’ve spent two years developing Project Global Citizen. That problem is reputational risk for our international education industry. More specifically, the risk to our industry when expectations aren’t met when it comes to the international student experience in Australia, inside and outside the classroom.

The majority of problems highlighted in Cash Cows demonstrates what can happen when international students lack sufficient cultural skills to successfully transition into life in Australia. The documentary’s whistle-blowers mention self-harm, extreme financial distress, separation from family support, plagiarism and academic strife. These symptoms certainly ring true with the findings of our recent global survey of over 230 international students and industry professionals spanning 45 countries (we’ll be sharing those results very soon thanks to support from Study Queensland and ISANA International Education Association).

We believe the challenge is much bigger than ABC’s allegations of universities lowering their English standards, shoddy student recruitment practices and closing one eye to plagiarism.

No doubt, our education institutions are already addressing these issues (in the past 24 hours we’re already seeing providers issue public statements around conducting external reviews).

The question, in our opinion, is are we doing enough to support international students with the right cultural skills to overcome challenges relating to their post-arrival transition experience, employability options and safety?

Whilst there are plenty of initiatives and support mechanisms already in place that focus on specific issues such as employability and safety, our observation is that programs often gloss over the cultural mindset of why international students find themselves in precarious situations in the first place.

Furthermore, existing programs often assume that students are already aware of “unwritten cultural rules” for studying, working and living in Australia.

As an industry, we can do much better at on-boarding international students and optimising their experience in Australia. That’s why we’re working with international education providers, international study clusters and government in the roll-out of Project Global Citizen, a cultural competency accelerator program that will help international students survive and thrive in Australia.

Our vision is to ensure that international students have the right cultural skills to thrive in their studies, feel integrated into Australian society, secure ethical internships and employment, and have a safe and enjoyable experience.

So, if the reputational risk highlighted in ABC’s Cash Cows is a concern for your organisation, please contact us for a confidential chat.

About Project Global Citizen.

Project Global Citizen is a ground-breaking approach to on-boarding international students and optimising their experience in Australia. A pilot project has been awarded Queensland Government support through the Queensland International Education and Training Partnership Fund (IET Partnership Fund) managed by Study Queensland at Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ). For more information about Project Global Citizen, click on this link.

About the Project Global Citizen Consortium.

Working hand-in-hand with Study Queensland, the Project Global Citizen consortium comprises ISANA Qld, Alphacrane Intercultural Specialists and CTC, Cultural Transition Consulting.

ISANA Qld is the state branch of ISANA International Education Association, Australia’s representative body for international education professionals. ISANA Qld President Samantha Hilbig is the project sponsor for Project Global Citizen.

The founders and project managers of Project Global Citizen are intercultural practitioners Craig Shim and Astrid Hofmann.

Craig Shim is an intercultural consultant with over two decades of global marketing and cross-cultural consulting experience. He is the director and founder of Queensland-based Alphacrane Intercultural Specialists.

Astrid Hofmann is an intercultural consultant with over two and half decades of experience working with multi-national organisations including Defence training institutes in Australia and abroad. She is the founder and Director of CTC, Cultural Transition Consulting.