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Celebrating international students in our communities

Published:26 May 2020

ABC Melbourne featured CQUniversity representatives including alumnus Maryam Omar, Associate Vice-President (Victoria Region) Lara Carton, and Dr Ritesh Chugh, for a discussion about international students and their contributions to out community.

The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on Australia's international student sector have been huge, as closed borders and travel restrictions have locked out thousands of aspiring overseas students.

As the $40 billion sector counts the cost, CQUniversity is determined to celebrate the many positive community impacts of our international students.

In the past decade, nearly 3 million students from overseas have studied in Australia, with many choosing to live and work here after they graduate.

CQUniversity Melbourne is currently home to nearly 3000 students from more than 50 countries, and CQUni Associate Vice-President (Victoria Region) outlined some of the challenges they face, as a guest on ABC Melbourne radio.

The ABC Melbourne Conversation Hour program looked at some of the reasons that international students choose to come to Australia, and all the ways they contribute to their community.

Listen to ABC Melbourne's Conversation Hour about the international student community.

Ms Carton explained that students were struggling with job losses, access to technology away from campus, insecure accommodation, and also concern about family and friends back home.

"All of this impacts their ability to study in Australia - like so many people they're facing such a broad range of worries," she explained.

"We've been very fortunate to set up a food bank on campus with SecondBite, and we're feeding hundreds of students every week, which has made a big difference to putting food on the table."

The program also featured School of Engineering and Technology academic Dr Ritesh Chugh, who was a CQUni international student nearly two decades ago, and now teaches domestic and international students.

"We need to realise that international education enriches both international and domestic students, as they're connecting more and preparing for global workforces, too," Dr Chugh explained.

Recent graduate Maryam Omar also shared her story, as a Palestinian woman from Kuwait who completed her Master of Engineering at CQUniversity Melbourne, and was offered a job following her CQUni work placement at engineering consultancy pitt&sherry.

"For me, being an international student really shaped my life - and the work opportunities I have, because of my study experiences, are so exciting.

"So for students now, staying positive and knowing you will become more resilient, it is worth the challenges."

As well as working on some of the state's biggest infrastructure projects, Maryam has been very involved in Melbourne sporting community since moving from Kuwait in 2016.

The former captain of the Kuwaiti National Ladies Cricket Team, Maryam now plays with Dandenong Cricket Club in the Victorian Premier League, and also worked for Cricket Victoria as a development coordinator, supporting the next generation of female stars.

Hear more about Maryam Omar's experience at CQUniversity: