Wellbeing of international students is our responsibility

Editorial One

Issue 397 August 1, 2018

It is heartening to note that Mental Health occupies the core of the Funding Round of the International Student Wellbeing Strategy 2019 announced by the government last week.

You can help in promoting the Strategy by encouraging the stakeholders to participate in the Round with their Expression of Interest, which is due on or before Friday, August 24, 2018.

Issues causing concern

For too long, international students have had lip service although successive governments have implemented some sort of Wellbeing Strategy year after year. But none of them seem to have touched the critical issue of Mental Health from which many international students suffer.

The challenge of living away from home and from one’s familiar surroundings, solitude, cultural differences, peer-pressure, high cost of living and paucity of finance are some of the issues that international students from some countries face in New Zealand.

Suicides rising

The tendency to commit suicide appears to be high among the youth in many countries, and New Zealand is not immune to this problem. Statistics relating to suicide among international students is sketchy but the problem cannot be overlooked.

The problem is compounded in the case of international students from India who are misled, cheated and thrown into hot waters by unscrupulous education agents in India. Often, false promises impel them (or their parents) to pledge their land, properties, gold and jewellery with the prospect of making fast money in New Zealand through assured jobs and ‘instant Permanent Residence’ status. As realities hit, they suffer mental health issues and tend to take extreme steps- sometimes their own life.

Code of Practice

The government had enforced the ‘Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 to strengthen providers’ responsibilities for the requirement of international students and the care of them while they are in the country.

It was claimed that the Code was a ‘World-leading exercise’ and that it would set the trend for pastoral care of international students in New Zealand.

We hope this government will revisit the Code and have in place better pastoral care.

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