MCIE has won the Excellence in International Student Experience award at the prestigious 2020 Victorian International Education Awards, presented by Study Melbourne. This award recognises a Victorian education provider who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in enhancing the experience of international students beyond academic support, or engagement with the Victorian community.
“Supporting the community and its students is integral to MCIE, and this award is a testimony to MCIE’s continuing commitment to enhancing the student experience and to providing a supportive and nurturing environment that promotes student wellbeing, as well as engagement with the community at all times,” stated Gary Coonar, Managing Director, MCIE.
“2020 was a particularly testing time for the entire community, along with international students who were majorly impacted, facing severe hardships, due to Melbourne’s lockdowns, all while being away from their families. During this time, our priority was to ensure that the students did not feel isolated or alone, that they were valued, cared for and provided with every possible support mechanism. It was heartening that our teaching, training, and support staff, together with our student volunteers, united to help provide constant support in the form of free meals, counselling, free online courses, as well as daily wellbeing sessions, to help the international students remain connected to and engaged with their school and broader community,” added Gary.
One young student from Colombia, Santiago, 26, worked at a cafe before the pandemic broke out (one of the almost one million jobs that have been lost in Australia because of lockdown measures). After paying his rent and borrowing money from friends, he had less than US$66 (approximately $AUD90) in his savings account. Needless to say, this is a meagre amount to survive on in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Vast government subsidies that were given to workers who lost their jobs as a direct result of COVID-19, did not apply to non-residents, even those paying local taxes and bringing billions of dollars into the Australian economy. The provision of two meals a day, and always an extra surprise treat (home-baked cookies or fruit) from MCIE was a lifeline for Santiago, and many like him.
As part of our commitment to providing an exceptional international student experience, we provide 24/7 welfare and mental health support free of charge to our students. This can take the form of job coaching, financial advice or simply providing a listening ear. During the Stage 4 lockdown period, in addition to regular virtual classes, we developed a series of special online free events, to aid in promoting good mental health in our students. These included presentations on how to look after your mental and physical health during COVID-19, free yoga classes, sketching, painting, English classes, and virtual tours.
We understand that the primary focus of our International students is to work towards their career goals and our primary directive is to facilitate that. In fact, 60% of our students surveyed got a job after completing their studies with us, more than double the Victorian average of 28.5%.
We believe our initiatives from our food relief program to the cookery training program are innovative in their nature because they demonstrate we are often the first to respond and provide solutions to challenging problems, when others may turn their backs. We set the narrative for institutions and individuals to follow suit and pave the way for our International students (who make 40% of the Australian student population) to become actively engaged in their community, develop life-long skills and return to their country as ambassadors for Melbourne, and Australia.
The Victorian International Education Awards is an initiative of the Victorian Government to support the international education sector and raise awareness of the sector’s benefits to greater society.
“This award is a true reflection of the untiring efforts of the entire MCIE family. We are thankful to Study Melbourne and the whole 2020 Victorian International Educations Awards team, for this wonderful recognition of our contribution to the industry and our community,” said Gary.