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New space for International Students - 2 July 2009

New space for International Students
USU to launch International Student Lounge at the University of Sydney

The University of Sydney Union has extended its hand to the international student community, with the forthcoming opening the new International Student Lounge.

The expansive International Student Lounge will take over most of the fourth floor of the Wentworth Building, and will be a centre of information, resources and networking for students both local and from abroad.

Free computer and internet access, comprehensive information resources, a help desk, games areas, comfy seating, meeting spaces and a helpful, dedicated volunteer group will be available for all students, both local and from abroad, from 14 July.

The Lounge is aimed at easing the often taxing, and intimidating transition into a foreign university, and actually making it an enjoyable experience for international students.

The dire need for such a safe space has been made more poignant with the recent reporting of violent attacks targeted at international students.

Student Programs Director of the USU, Alistair Cowie said the International Student Lounge is just one of a number of exciting new USU projects aimed at fostering a vibrant and all-inclusive community at the University of Sydney.

“Studies show that the experience of some international students does not meet all expectations, particularly in terms of interaction with local students,” said Mr Cowie.

“The International Student Lounge is the first phase in a realignment of services at Australia’s first University Union,” he said, “The ISL will become a focal point of a new student hub to be developed at the heart of the University’s Camperdown/Darlington Campus.”

Outgoing President Ruchir Punjabi said the USU was involved in discussions with the University of Sydney as part of an International Students Task Force, charged with tackling the issues faced by international students before and after stepping foot in Australia to study.

“The idea is to try and provide International students with a single point of contact when they get here and help them integrate at the University,” said Mr Punjabi.

“Given that International students who do not live on campus do not get many opportunities to integrate in the local environment unless they jump into Clubs and Societies or our Australian Discussion Groups, this will provide another opportunity for them to meet locals and International students,” he said.

Complementing the International Student Lounge will be the USU’s new airport “meet and greet” volunteering service.

Students landing on Australian soil will be met at the airport and guided to their accommodation or to the University by fellow students. In the future, the program will expand to provide pre-departure ‘virtual meetings’ via the internet with current USU members.

“As an international student myself I know how challenging the first few days and weeks can be for newly arrived people: Sydney University is a big place”, added Mr Punjabi,

“I really wish I’d had a friendly face to go to when I arrived.”

The International Student Lounge will be formally opened by newly appointed USU President Patrick Bateman, and the University of Sydney Deputy Vice Chancellor (International) Professor John Hearn later this month.

Media Enquiries:
Paul McJannett USU CEO

March 2012

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