Deakin Logo

A warm welcome to new and returning international students

  • Blog
  • 4 min read
  • Posted March 2022

Burwood Residential Leaders (photo credit Chelsea Carter-Scales) 
Top row L-R: Tea Van de Burgt, Tom Browell, Tim Vrij, Adyant Modi  
Middle row L-R: Jason Stark, Wren Lamplugh, Mark Dean, Courtney Kingwell, Vaishali Thakoor 
Bottom row L-R: Poorvaja Krishnan Venkateswaran, Zoya Zaman, Emily Clark
Burwood Residential Leaders with Vaishali Thakoor, far right, second from the bottom.

As the 2022 academic year begins there is a tangible buzz in the air at Deakin Residential Services (DRS), from new and returning residents, staff, and particularly from international students who can study in Australia for the first time since international borders were closed in March 2020.

From 15 December 2021, fully vaccinated international students were able to travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. While DRS was cautiously optimistic about the return of this important cohort, the reality has been better than expected, with over 400 international residents arriving on campus to date.

Marion Bayley, CEO of Deakin Residential Services best articulates the significance of this moment, saying,

Here at Deakin Res, we have been delighted to welcome a wonderful group of international students from a wide range of countries. They are such a key part of our diverse residential community and we look forward to seeing them achieve great things in their time with us.

At DRS, our international students have embraced life on Res, taking part in a wide range of events throughout the orientation period. One memorable moment came when Wurundjeri elder Ian Hunter performed a Welcome to Country ceremony for residents. International students were seen in animated discussion with Mr Hunter before and after the ceremony, making the most of this opportunity to engage with First Nations culture in a meaningful way.

At the Burwood residences in particular, our international cohort has brought a renewed vibrancy to campus. This includes a number of our Student Residential Leaders, one of whom is Vaishali Thakoor, who shares her impressions of the return to Australia below.

Tell us a little about yourself

'I grew up and attended school in Mauritius before I came to Australia in 2018 and started my bachelor's degree in computer science at Deakin University. I am currently studying a Masters in IT(Professional).'

After having to study remotely from Mauritius in 2021, what does it mean for you to be back at Deakin in person this year?

'Studying remotely last year was very hard for me and it has had a huge impact on my mental health as well. I am utterly grateful to have been able to come back to Deakin and study in person this year. I look forward to making the most of my classes, my residence life and all the resources available to me both at the University and at Deakin Residence.'

What are you most looking forward to while living on Res in 2022?

'I look forward to making lifelong friendships and growing as a leader and as an individual and making the most of my time as a Residential Leader. I am also looking forward to offering my contribution to Deakin Residence as it has been my home ever since I first came to Australia, and it means a lot to me to be able to be a support system and help others in their journey as first time ressies.'

What is it like for you to see other international students arriving on Res? How are they settling into their new home?

'It reminds me of my first day coming to Res with my father, being all nervous and excited for this new beginning in my life. I am certain that the smiling faces of Residential Leaders walking ressies to their room makes a huge difference in breaking the ice and helping them to feel welcomed in their new home. Although the transition from home to Res is a huge one, it is certainly a lifetime experience and the staff and Residential Leaders have made sure that ressies feel as comfortable as possible in their new home and have the support they need.'

What are you planning to do after you finish your studies?

'I am hoping to undertake a job or an internship in the field of IT to gain work experience or continue further studies in areas of research.'

What would you say to other international students considering travelling to Australia and living on Res?

'I would highly recommend any student to embark on this journey. Choosing Deakin University and Deakin Res has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have grown into an individual with valuable social, interpersonal and job-oriented skills throughout my journey and I look forward to more experiences and growth in the years to come and during my time at Deakin Res.

Deakin Res is more than a student accommodation, it is a community with values that ensure all students and staff grow and thrive academically and individually, it is where you will make lifelong friends and family and it is the place that you will call home.'

This positivity is felt across the University, reflected in the words of John Molony, Deakin’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (International), who says,

At Deakin and more broadly across the Australian higher education sector, we are buoyed to see the enthusiastic return of international students to on-campus learning (and living) in 2022. We are looking to strengthen our international collaboration and partnerships with institutions and organisations and are confident that this will have a positive impact on our international student numbers in the coming years.

While it will be some time before we return to the heights of pre-pandemic international student numbers, we at Deakin have been particularly pleased to see the uptake from many parts of the world, and we are confident that they will enjoy great benefits from their in-person study experiences in Australia.

As Mr Molony says, it’s not just the return of students that comes as a benefit of the recently opened borders, but the ability to build on the important partnerships and cross-national connections which have been nurtured remotely throughout the pandemic. This has perhaps been thrown into the sharpest focus for international-based colleagues like Deakin’s Ravneet Pawha, Deputy Vice President Global Engagement & CEO (South Asia), who says,

It feels surreal to be back in Australia after more than two years. Nothing can replace the value of human connection when you meet face-to-face, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be able to meet colleagues and my family here after what seems like forever. I’m excited to be here for O-Week and to witness the campus abuzz with activity from students and staff.

There’s a very strong recognition among Indian international students of the focus on real-world learning and graduate outcomes placed by Deakin University. Recent positive news of work visa extensions and a host of other benefits for international students has strengthened Australia’s position as a popular study destination and this is evident from the numerous messages I've been receiving from current and prospective students about how much they are looking forward to being back in Australia.

At Deakin and more broadly across the education and student accommodation sectors, we are excited to welcome international students back to our residences. As borders and doors have opened, an important part of our community has returned, and we look forward to welcoming many more students in the years to come.

Written by

Profile photo of author Sam Johnstone
Sam Johnstone Manager, Experience and Engagement

Sam Johnstone is Manager, Experience and Engagement at Deakin Residential Services. With a background in engagement and student experience roles across Deakin and the wider Higher Education sector, Sam is passionate about supporting students to reach their full potential.