Experience is everything: the Gold Coast’s X factor
Students choose to study abroad for many reasons, but most would consider the chance to obtain a high-quality education and create networking opportunities while seeking out new cultural experiences among their primary motivators.
More often than not, a student’s decision on where to study comes down to a shortlist where there is little difference between a qualification from one institution to the next and that’s when other considerations come into focus, like the cost of their course of study, cost of living, geographical location (accessibility, distance from home, etc..) and cultural appeal.
The majority of education destinations would consider that they offer enough of a unique proposition that they would appeal to plenty of prospective students, essentially levelling the playing field, and to varying degrees they’re right – after all, how else could they remain in business? So when these factors begin to cancel each other out, what do you have left to offer students that they can’t get anywhere else?
Student experience isn’t just the by-product of getting an education, it’s all about enhancing a student’s activities while gaining their education. This is the X factor that we’ve worked hard on over the years on the Gold Coast.
Many would argue that we are lucky in that the Gold Coast not only offers a world class education system with over 200 education and training providers, including three universities, and that we have a dynamic, young city positioned in a spectacular location, surrounded by a conveniently accessible and pristine environment. But if that’s all you’re offering and you’re not investing in what students are actually experiencing, what are our graduates really taking away from their time here?
If a student is choosing us as their preferred destination then we should be doing everything we can to ensure that we are investing in this chapter of their life to give them a unique experience that will never occur again.
Experience isn’t just an adventure, it’s about the quality of the encounter and that’s where student support plays such a key role. The focal point of our city’s support services is the Gold Coast Student Hub, a welcoming study space and communal facility where lifelong friendships are made while providing free services to all our students.
“The focal point of our city’s support services is the Gold Coast Student Hub”
Without having a localised family support network international students need to know that they are safe and supported in their new home. They may need help finding a job or finding accommodation, they may have visa issues, they may be homesick – whatever the reason, our students can access support through the Gold Coast Student Hub when they need it.
During the pandemic Study Gold Coast delivered over 37,000 chef-prepared meals and grocery packs through seven distribution points across the city where students in need could access our support. Once again our philosophy was to prioritise the student experience – even during a crisis.
An increasing number of international students are looking for authentic experiences in their new home – they want to be part of, and contribute to, the local community. By offering students opportunities to engage locally they develop their understanding of the environment while strengthening their connections within their adopted community, giving them a greater sense of belonging.
Ultimately we all gain from these experiences – students and locals alike. As such, we can never take our students for granted, nor lose sight of the incredible contributions they make to our culture, livelihoods and understanding of a wider world. They give us greater relevance in an increasingly diverse and multicultural community while contributing to the fabric of our society.
About the author: This is a sponsored post from Chief Executive Officer of Study Gold Coast, Alfred Slogrove. Alfred has been an industry leader on the Gold Coast for the past 16 years. As Director of Business Development at TAFE he developed successful partnerships with Gold Coast Health, Advance Queensland and the 2018 Gold Coast Organising Committee, where he negotiated TAFE Queensland’s Tier 1 Sponsorship for the Commonwealth Games which included training the 15,000 volunteers for GC2018.
Alfred also developed and implemented a national ‘Payment Gateway’ through TAFE for a scholarship fund that has benefitted over 2,000 students. The scholarships are offered state-wide, creating opportunities for students from many backgrounds to start their new career path.
Since joining Study Gold Coast in 2019 Alfred led the Regional Reclassification Campaign to ensure the Australian Government granted three-year post study work rights for international students on the Gold Coast and with the advent of Covid-19 Alfred oversaw a number of key support initiatives for international students, including the delivery of over 37,000 chef prepared meals and grocery packs to students in need.
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