Best practice international student engagement

The challenge

The international education sector has been particularly hard hit by border closures and uncertainties created by the spread of coronavirus. In 2020 there were more than 580,000 international students studying in Australia. This dropped significantly during COVID-19. However, since early 2022, there has been a positive rebound in the number of student visas lodged for higher education.

International education enriches Australia’s universities, culture, society and the economy so it is important to provide effective support for international students to ensure satisfactory experiences for this cohort.

Deakin has been contracted by the Australian Government to implement the Best Practice International Student Engagement Project under the International Education Innovation Fund (IEIF). The IEIF is a $10 million program to support the international education sector to innovate, diversify and grow. This project aims to support Australia’s international education sector to rebuild and reposition for the future, by identifying good practices for international student engagement.


Project overview

The project team will work with the international education sector and communities to identify what good practice in international student engagement looks like, determine enabling and inhibiting factors and investigate how international students can be more effectively supported. The researchers will gather insights from English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), schools, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and higher education providers across the public and private sectors in Australia and overseas.

Catering for international students’ needs during crises, including war, health, financial and disasters, has emerged as a critical area of international student support that warrants more nuanced understanding in order to build good practices and support this cohort. Current research suggests it is crucial for good support provision to be inclusive and responsive to students’ diverse needs. Empathy must be at the centre of any support program.

The project will focus on crucial factors, including fostering engagement between domestic and international students; engagement between international students and the local community; and support services for employability, accommodation, finance, mental health and wellbeing. An important aspect of the study will be the voices and experiences of a wide range of community bodies, professional organisations, government departments, state and territory governments, local councils, employers, ethnic organisations, youth associations, business councils, accommodation providers, and OSHC providers.


The project will seek to identify the enabling and inhibiting factors for support provision for international students. We will showcase good practices and identify those that are not sustainable or effective. We will identify what good practices look like and develop more nuanced ways to foster optimal student experiences across a range of areas.

Project team

Professor Ly Tran (Chief Investigator)
Deakin Distinguished Professor Jill Blackmore
Ms Danielle Hartridge
Associate Professor Helen Forbes-Mewett (Monash University)
Ms Renata Aldana (Oz International Student Hub)
Dr Diep Nguyen


Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment




More information

If you would like to contribute to this project, share resources and be kept informed of its progress and outcome, please send an email to

Project website:

Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030 – Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government

Deakin researchers to develop good practice guide and resources to support international students


international education, learning abroad, student mobility, leadership, governance and policy, 21st Century literacies