In addition to now operating in Indonesia, mainland China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, Australia’s Monash College began running its “transition education” programmes in Melbourne more than 20 years ago.
On three campuses around the city, Monash offers routes into first or second year undergraduate degree courses, alongside English-language courses to help students, whatever their level.
The college’s Foundation Year programme is for students looking for a guaranteed pathway to the full range of Monash University undergraduate degree courses. It is also accepted by all Australian universities and more than 30 international universities throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the UK and so is also suitable for those who haven’t yet made a final decision on the degree they wish to pursue.
In contrast, the Diploma programme is aimed at those students who are dedicated to the pursuit of a specific Monash University degree but will benefit from the extra support and community Monash College provides. On completion of the Diploma, students will have direct entry into the second year of their degree. Monash College is wholly owned by Monash University.
“Monash College’s focus is on the best tertiary outcome for each individual student,” says Anne Bright, director, Foundation Year, Monash College. “Our Foundation Year and Diploma students are guaranteed entry into Monash University after meeting set entry requirements. If Monash is not the right destination, Monash College advisers will assist them to transition to another Australian or international university.”
In 2011, there were 280 Hong Kong students studying the college’s Foundation and Diploma programmes in Australia.
Bright believes their choice of Monash College was based on more than academic criteria. “Melbourne is truly a multicultural city,” she says. “With 45 per cent of people in Victoria [Melbourne’s home state] born overseas or having a parent who was born overseas, and more than 150 different languages spoken here, it is easy to see why students feel at home. And as Australia’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan city, there is always an exhibition, event or concert happening.”
But Bright recognises that in spite of the extra-curricular activities on offer, overseas students may still need help settling in.
“Our students are starting a new phase in their life and may be learning to cope with the challenges of studying aboard, and living independently in an unfamiliar environment. Our induction programmes are very important in helping students take this first step and emphasise the importance of developing friendships with others.
“We have student mentor programmes for our Diploma and Foundation Year programmes,” Bright adds, “which students find extremely valuable. In the first week they make a friend who has been in their situation and is experienced at making the transition to studying and living in Melbourne.”
Beyond that students undergo a comprehensive induction process tailored to the course they’ve chosen, and work together in teams to explore the sights and geography of Melbourne and its surroundings.
Bright says Monash College’s Homestay Accommodation Service is popular with international students, giving them the option of living with an Australian host family.
The college also offers a wide range of assistance. “Students are encouraged to seek support from teaching staff as well as dedicated consultants who provide academic and welfare guidance,” Bright explains.
Medical and psychological services are readily available to students and an OSHC (Overseas Student Health Cover) group attends the City campus weekly to take enquiries from students about their health insurance.
“Foundation Year students are supported with a full pastoral care programme through weekly Home Groups,” says Bright. “This includes guidance and advice on dealing with ‘culture shock’, and other issues.
“Our Diploma programmes are the equivalent of studying in the first year at Monash University and students start their transition immediately by immersing themselves in university life, and using the many clubs and societies.”