| Peter Gatbonton, works at QUT's International Student
Services department where he plans and takes care of foreign students'
needs. Few realise that Australian universities spare no effort in
assisting international students with their preparation for the 'big'
move to study overseas. Monster.com had a chat with Peter, where he
gives us an insight into his operations and what students can expect
as part of their orientation to a foreign university.
What is a Venture Capitalist? What are your responsibilities
as an International Student Adviser?
My task here is to see to the welfare & well-being of international
students at Queensland University of Technology. Our international
student services department looks at supporting our foreign students
in every way possible so that they achieve their academic & personal
How do you and your department help overseas students settle in to
a foreign study environment?
We prepare foreign students for what to expect during their stay and
study in Australia. We achieve this by conducting pre-departure briefings,
sending out publications, corresponding with them either physically,
by email or other means. In short, we try to address the anxiety and
pre arrival jitters, uncertainties & insecurities all students
International student services conducts a comprehensive orientation
program that deals with issues they're likely to encounter here either
on a social, personal or academic level.
Could you give us a rough idea of what sort of a background your students
Our student intake is much more international than it was several
years ago. The majority still arrive from South East Asia, although
a growing number of Scandinavians (Norway, Sweden) have come across
and are actually the 2nd largest group of international students.
This in fact, has introduced a very different dynamics to the perception
of "International Student".
On one extreme you have the young highly technological, very global,
affluent student and on the other you have students from developing
countries who have earned a scholarship or, more likely, their parents
are financing their education through a massive debt.
As expected the majority are young students, with a significant number
of the international student populatio being mature aged, upgrading
their qualifications or finally having to chance to seek academic
What does your department do to be
sensitive to the cultural and social needs of students?
We employ a number of staff from a diverse range of cultural
backgrounds. We encourage staff exchanges with other universities.
For example, a staff from study aboard in Norway came to work at QUT
for 6 months. He was valuable in giving all staff information the
background/ profile of Norwegian students, and we have used this information
to take better care of our incoming students. ISS also nurtures and
maintain very close relationship with our International student groups
What level of support and assistance
can students expect when they study at an overseas university?
QUT has a very comprehensive accommodation service that operates on
a personal level. The whole process of settling into QUT and Brisbane
has been broken down to small digestible bits, providing the information
when its needed. This way, we try to pre-empt students needs, and
yet keep our introduction flexible so that we can cater to students
needs. This process does not stop, when they begin their study at
QUT in fact, we conduct post-study workshops to prepare students for
reverse culture shock, when they head home after a few years in Australia.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of
pursuing their studies in Australia?
Keep an open mind, be adventurous and make the most of your