“Mapping the Social Networks of International Students: Foundations for Improved Communication with International Students”
Collaboration between RMIT (Catherine Gomes) and University of Melbourne (Shanton Chang)
The project is an online survey of the information-seeking behaviour of international students in Australia and potential international students coming to Australia. We wanted to know what sources they consulted regarding their sojourn in Australia particularly when it came to everyday issues of health, accommodation, study, news and entertainment. These sources included personal networks (friends and family), professional contacts (e.g. agents) and official/public domains (e.g institutional websites).
Data analysis is still ongoing by the researchers. A key finding in this project is that international students who have a combination of social networks (e.g. domestic and international student friends) are likely to have more sources of information. We also found that there is a percentage of respondents who do not have any friends whatsoever while a number have friends who are fellow international students from other countries rather than their own.
A workshop was held with IDP Australia on 27 May at RMIT. During the workshop we discussed some of the key findings and possible outlets for the dissemination of the results of our study. It was decided that we need to present the findings within 12 months since the data is still fresh. We have been presenting the findings of this project at refereed conferences such as ISANA in Melbourne in December 2015 and at industry-focused conferences such as the Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide in October 2015. We have also presented the findings to the Department of Education and Training in Canberra (April 2016) and at overseas academic and stakeholder conferences and seminars.