Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Appreciate and understand the conditions of an Australian student visa, and why it is important to comply with and respect them
  • Develop skills to find appropriate accommodation to suit individual budgets and needs
  • Gain an improved knowledge of realistic living costs in Australia
  • Recognise the types of work students can do, the laws that guarantee workplace rights in Australia, and how to raise concerns
  • Gain an understanding of key personal, travel, and water safety messages in Australia.


Welcome to the International Student Success programme!

Studying abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience, allowing you to become more independent, expand your horizons and gain a fresh global perspective. It can also be daunting as you adapt to living in a new country, experience different cultures, and adjust to a new system of learning.

This programme will support you in building the knowledge, skills, and understanding that are central to preparing for and adapting to university life in Australia. With lots of practical tips and real student stories, these four modules will help you to build your confidence throughout your student journey:

  • Preparing for student life in Australia
    • Visas
    • Accommodation
    • Finances and work
    • Exploring Australia safely

  • Culture: Adapting and managing expectations
    • Exploring your local community
    • Culture shock
    • Cultural history
    • Your new learning environment

  • Effective communication
    • Communication styles
    • Networking
    • Making conversation
    • Working in groups

  • Looking after yourself and finding support
    • Homesickness and loneliness
    • Relationships
    • Perfectionism
    • Healthcare.

Using the module


We would like to begin this module by acknowledging and paying our respects to the traditional custodians of Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Throughout this module the use of the term Australia's First Peoples will encompass both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It also strengthens the notion that sovereignty has never been ceded. We would also like to extend special respects to the First Peoples of the countries in which you are completing this online programme.


We strive to make our content accessible to the widest possible audience. While the module is largely compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, there are some interactive objects that we cannot make fully accessible. To account for these instances, we provide a text/print version of the module. This version can be accessed by selecting the 'Text/print version' option available at the top of each screen.


Please note that responses to all activities are anonymous and are not saved. We hope this will help you to be as honest as possible about how you are feeling.

Guidance on sensitive content

Please note that this programme deals with sensitive issues including homesickness, loneliness, culture shock, and sexual consent. If you find any of the content distressing, close the screen and return to it at another time, when you feel able. Look at the pods and Resource bank screens for information on where you can get help or support for anything that is causing you discomfort.


  • The centre of each screen contains the core content for each course, presented either as text, interactive activities, graphics, videos or animations
  • Text highlighted in a box preceded by an arrow contains instructions on how to navigate the activities that follow

  • Terms highlighted like this can be clicked on to access pop-up boxes containing definitions of key terms
  • Note that your responses to the note-making and text entry activities (where you type responses in the space provided) can be printed and used as part of your ongoing work
  • At the top of each screen you will see an indication of the approximate time it will take to complete the core content. These estimates include time to watch the videos and complete the activities in the central section, but not to complete the 'Optional activities'
  • At the very end of the module, you have the opportunity to test your learning further with a multiple-choice quiz. This consists of eight questions and can be taken more than once.

Poll questions

The poll questions are designed to help you think about your own situation and attitudes, and to compare your responses to those of others taking the course. Consider talking to an academic advisor about your responses.


Throughout this programme, you will see additional learning opportunities in 'pods'. Exploring the information provided in the pods will enrich the learning experience.

  • Useful links pod iconUseful links Links to organisations or other resources to support your learning.
  • Student stories pod iconStudent stories Direct quotes from students linked to the main content on the screen.
  • Try this pod iconTry this Activities to encourage you to look into a particular issue in more depth, or to practise skills.
  • Finding support pod iconFinding support Advice on when and where to find additional support, with a focus on wellbeing.
  • Employability skills pod iconEmployability skills Ideas for how relevant skills can be developed when thinking about future careers.

Expert panel


Melanie Duncan

Melanie has worked in higher education for over 20 years with extensive expertise in international admissions; designing and implementing policies, procedures and processes within an ESOS/TEQSA framework; leading international-specific campuses for both universities and third-party providers; and leading teams of international education professionals across all tertiary international student lifecycle administrative processes and wellbeing service delivery.

Much of her work has been working with international students to overcome their academic and personal hurdles. Her extensive experience working with students has seen her work broaden in recent years to design higher education policy and develop student-centred wellbeing programmes to enable a physically and emotionally safe learning environment for enrolled domestic and international tertiary students.

Co-author and Lead advisor

Dr Paula Durance

Paula has been working in the field of international education since 1992. Her experience includes teaching, research, curriculum development, managing international student support programs, project management, quality assurance, international education management, and policy development. She has degrees in Arts and Education, and a Master of Education. Her PhD thesis investigated the experiences of international students in the City of Melbourne, Australia.

Paula has dedicated recent years to the professional development of those working with international students and to supporting students themselves in universities, schools and representative organisations. She is part of the content design team for ISANA New Zealand's Capability Protect Programme in partnership with Education New Zealand, an online resource hub for international education practitioners. Between 2004-2013, Paula led the development and delivery of the online Education Agent Training Course (EATC), The Diploma of International Education Services and the International Student Leadership Program (ISLP) for the Council of International Students Australia. She has been a member of ISANA (International Education Association) since 1994, was its national President and was awarded ISANA life membership in 2006.

Lead advisor

Dr Melissa Russell

Melissa is a researcher and lecturer in epidemiology and Head of the Centre of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Teaching Unit at the University of Melbourne.

In line with her interest in mental health and education, Melissa is involved in a large research project investigating university student wellbeing, with a particular focus on international students. She has also undertaken many innovative projects to enhance the experience of international students in the University of Melbourne Master of Public Health.


Molly Bonnefin

Molly has extensive experience in the tertiary education sector. Her special interests are in the fields of under-age students, accommodation, and assisting international students to integrate into life and study in Australia. She held a number of managerial roles during her 17 years at Monash College, leading teams of advisors who provided student engagement, wellbeing activities, careers counselling, accommodation support to all students, and guardianship services to under-age students. She also has 13 years of administrative and international student recruitment experience at Chisholm Institute.

From 2009 to 2014, Molly chaired the ISANA Special Interest Group in Pre-Tertiary Students and Accommodation, and since 2016 has been ISANA National Treasurer. She managed the ISANA Consumer Protection and the National Code: Empowering International Students project to increase students' awareness of their rights and responsibilities under their study visa. This project was funded by Study Melbourne as part of its 2019 International Student Welfare Program.

Molly was awarded the 2014 John Gallagher Memorial Bursary, set up to recognise an outstanding contribution to ELICOS made by an individual working for an English Australia member college. In 2019, she received the ISANA Council Award for an Outstanding Individual Contribution to ISANA.

Sharon Cook

Sharon has been working in the international education sector since 2001, and currently leads a team of 15 people who place approximately 2,000 students into internships across six faculties at Monash University. International student employability and employment outcomes are a key focus in this program. Prior to this, Sharon's roles included International Education program co-ordinator at the City of Melbourne, developing and implementing the council's first international student strategy, and the National International Education Policy Research Officer at the National Union of Students.

In her roles with City of Melbourne and the NUS as well as in her role as Victorian president of ISANA, Sharon participated in a range of national and state international education advisory committees, and developed and presented submissions to all levels of government on many facets of the international student experience in Australia. This included a focus on quality education, migration and student visas, employment, and accommodation and discrimination.

Bronwyn Gilson

Bronwyn has worked in Higher Education for most of her career, and for the past 13 years was the Manager of International Services and the Manager of International Compliance at the University of New England, Armidale NSW.

Her passion lies in ensuring international students have the best possible experience and care during their time in Australia, and that those who support them have access to appropriate training and networking to build and share their skills and experiences in the industry. Bronwyn is the current President of ISANA having been a long-term member.

Michelle Tamala

Michelle started her teaching in high schools, teaching languages other than English to reluctant teenagers. From secondary schools, Michelle moved to teaching in university pathway colleges, teaching English to migrants and then to international students. During her time teaching in the tertiary sector, Michelle was a classroom teacher, student advisor, materials developer, coordinator in a Self-Access Centre, Manager for Flexible and Independent Learning, Academic Coordinator for English for Study courses, and curriculum and assessment designer, including online courses.

At present, Michelle is an editor of the IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG online newsletter, as well as an assessor for the OET.

Development Group

International Student Success was developed in conjunction with:

  • Australian National University
  • Charles Sturt University
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Wollongong

Student panel

  • Tanya Babbar, Australian National University
  • Nayonika Bhattacharya, University of New South Wales
  • Tianhui Ke, University of Melbourne
  • Shruthi Kumar, University of New South Wales
  • Manmeet Singh, University of Wollongong
  • Mahime Watanabe, University of Wollongong
  • Jun Wei, University of New South Wales