Recently released data from the Australian Government shows that more than 700,000 international students arrived in Australia to study during the first quarter of 2024, marking an all-time high.

Earlier this year, on 27 March, the University of Wollongong hosted a “Welcome to Wollongong” event at the Wollongong Town Hall to greet newly arriving international students.

Senior Professor Eileen McLaughlin, UOW Vice-President for Academic and Student Life, said the annual event is a good opportunity for people to get acquainted with their surroundings.

“It gives incoming students the opportunity to meet key people in roles at the university and also meet members of the support services,” Professor McLaughlin said.

Although data indicates that the Australian higher education sector has largely rebounded from the decline in international students during the COVID-19 pandemic, UOW statistics show that the University of Wollongong has yet to fully recover from this downturn.

As of the end of 2023, UOW had a total of 5,400 international onshore students, compared to a previous high of 8,700 at the end of 2020.

“The university is extremely accommodating to incoming international students,” Professor Eileen said.

“From the point we pick them up from the point of entry, like at the airport, and transport them down to Wollongong we ensure they have access to support services and welcome packages.”

International student Autumn Doung has been at UOW for over a year and served as a Masters of Ceremonies at the Welcome to Wollongong event.

“From my perspective, it feels like there is an invisible line between international and domestic students. [early on] I would never have gone up to a domestic student and strike a conversation like how you would international friends,” Autumn said.