There are over 200,000 international students living in Victoria, with 35,000 in the City of Melbourne alone. While many students have positive, life-changing experiences and go on to be avid advocates for our city overseas, their lack of local network, life experience and cultural knowledge can make them vulnerable to isolation and even exploitation.
International education is Victoria’s largest services export, but more importantly, international students have become part of the fabric of life and culture in Melbourne. We began by asking how a digital tool could help international students in a way that has the most positive impact on their wellbeing.
Building on previous ethnographic research we had already conducted with Study Melbourne, we developed a co-design approach that involved international students at every step.
Through interviews, surveying and a co-design forum with Study Melbourne staff, social workers and international students, we learned a critical insight: what students do in the first few weeks of arrival in Victoria has an enormous effect on the rest of their time in the state. Their ability to orient themselves and connect with the right services early on reduced their vulnerability, and helped them be ready for the inevitable challenges of life in a new city.