Situated on 75 hectares of heritage parklands, overlooking the beautiful and lush city of Armidale, is the University of New England (UNE). A northwest drive along the coast — or a very short flight — from Sydney, it’s a place where students collect memorable experiences from the moment they set foot on campus.
It’s also where international students can discover their place in the world as staff and faculty go the extra mile to ensure that their students are supported in all aspects of time at UNE.
Bachelor of Nursing student Kate McNeill says that the best thing about UNE is the support she gets from lecturers: “They are not distant people – they are really approachable, really helpful, and really flexible when they know you have a family,” she says. “They have really helped me out.”
It’s not only the professors but the entire university community that comes together to provide students with all the tools they need to begin and bring their international student journey full circle.
As the current COVID-19 pandemic is causing undue anxiety and stress among international students planning to study abroad. Embassy closures, travel restrictions, rising cases, and uncertain visa regulations are among the several worries that students planning to study abroad are facing today. UNE has come up with an innovative solution to help them in these challenging times.
The school has launched a new, digitally ground-breaking initiative that connects students anywhere with expert education counsellors — ensuring they’re getting all the support they need wherever they are in the world. UNE Engage is a first-of-its-kind student recruitment app, matching prospective international students with counsellors who will guide them through selecting their ideal course, as well as the application and enrolment process.
UNE Engage is there to help — for example, imagine a student in the Philippines, they aspire and want to study abroad but they need more information and the support to make their final decision. By connecting easily with a dedicated counsellor at UNE through their laptop or mobile phone, they can reach out, start the conversation and get their questions answered easily without leaving their homes.
Many counsellors on the free-to-use platform speak several languages and are able to communicate with students from around the world. Tagalog, Hindi, Nepali, and Arabic are just some of the languages that students can use to speak to counsellors using UNE Engage.
International Marketing Manager, Chris Daly says the app makes it easy for prospective students’ queries and questions to be answered almost instantaneously by handpicked experts that have worked with UNE for a long time, and who understand the processes of considering, applying and going to school internationally. They are individuals who are committed to student success.
“Technology is an enabler and this app is designed to enhance the student journey, even before the student commences their studies,” he explains. “Students can choose a vetted and experienced UNE agent that speaks their language, who is from their home country or otherwise with responses given in real-time with 24/7 application support. This kind of technology and system gives students visibility and control of their application.”
The latest web portal, UNE Engage, is a reflection of the university’s commitment to consistently providing student support and ensuring the best student experiences. The proof is in the proverbial pudding — The Good Universities Guide has awarded UNE with five stars for “Overall Student Experience” for fifteen years in a row, and ranked the university as the State’s top university for Student Support and Teaching Quality.
Futureproofing international students
Being adaptable in the face of a changing world is one of the core values of the university. They were pioneers of distance learning initiatives way back in the 1950s. They’ve been honing their skills over the decades and have been recognized for their innovative work — Online Study Australia ranked UNE as the country’s best online university.
Today, they have over 18,000 online students studying over 170 online courses — where even exams can be taken online — with 24/7 tutor support for all students. There is a wide range of courses on offer at UNE spanning the arts and sciences, with many offering flexible online options.
UNE also provides plenty of opportunities for students to spread their wings and develop valuable work experience — through internships, practical learning elements and work placements.
Nursing student McNeill shares her impactful experience: “Last year I had the opportunity to go on a five-day intensive camp in Mittagong where you engage with people [who have suffered] mental illness. This year UNE offered, for the first time, two week international placements, and I was able to go on a placement to Thailand. It was fantastic. The whole experience has been life-changing.”
As pioneers of new and innovative technology and ongoing efforts to support international students, UNE International is helping to ensure that the future of international education in Australia is promising and can still continue during and post-pandemic.
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