The international student contribution travels far beyond learning
Richa Goswami is ReadyTech’s quality assurance (QA) manager for Education. Joining in 2021, she has a wealth of experience from her tech career in Australia, which has taken her from Melbourne to Adelaide to Canberra and Brisbane while working for many well-known, top tier employers.
Most recently with Boeing Defence Australia, her impressive employment and client record includes the Department of Finance, Department of Defence, Department of Education, Victoria Police, IBM, Telstra, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Tabcorp and ME Bank, to name just a few.
“I’ve always been curious. My strategy has always been to learn across different domains and sectors. I’ve been in QA mostly, and it’s given me deeper insight into the work cultures of different organisations, including the processes and strategies they have in place for success,” she says.
Richa was also once an international student. Arriving from New Delhi in 2000 (her first time on a plane) with the limited financial support of a family that had worked hard to give her the same self-advancement opportunities afforded to her brother and sister, she began studying a Diploma of IT.
Later enrolling in a Bachelor of Business Information Systems at Central Queensland University and working to support herself alongside her sister (who was studying at RMIT) she worked through ‘tough, laborious and adventurous’ times to create a life and career that has made a contribution.
“Life would be very different if things had gone a different way,” she says.
“In India, a Bachelors degree is not enough; you don’t get many opportunities where you will be considered for a good position until you have a Masters or a PhD degree along with a bright scorecard. I’m a people’s person who has good interpersonal communication skills with a confident personality. I’m good at getting out there, doing things, communicating, and not scared to fail. I have learnt some great lessons from failures of others and my own. Being an international student here gave me a platform to make the most of my personality, because here it’s not just about your vocational knowledge but also what you bring to the table all together as an individual.”
The true value of international students
In January 2022, the Federal Government removed the 40-hour-a-fortnight working hour cap that has traditionally applied to international students. With employers struggling to fill 400,000 jobs, Australia has woken up to how significant these students are to a fully functioning economy.
The ABS estimates international students contribute over $38 billion to our economy each year, and support over 130,000 Australian jobs. This includes a massive $25 billion in spending outside of tuition fees, 36% of which is directed to property and another 36% to hospitality and retail.
This is just part of the picture. Numbering 585,000 in 2019 before the pandemic, international students make up over 30% of the residential population in many suburbs in major cities. They often represent significant parts of communities in CBD areas and suburbs close to universities.
The Mitchell Institute described their contribution to our social fabric best when it said in a report: “International students are our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our tenants, our customers and our classmates. They are future world leaders and many will become Australian citizens.”
This makes international students a key source of enrichment for Australia – economically and otherwise. As international students come back onshore, we will need to ask ourselves how we can provide the best possible education experience and platform for their future growth – and ours.
International students enriching our community
Richa now manages a team of eight QAs, where she supports the quality of ReadyTech’s product suite for Australian tertiary education, particularly JR Plus. With so much of her own experience behind her, she can see the value that new strategies could have to improve efficiency and deliver on business needs.
Part of that may including hiring more international students. “We are looking at how we can support the dream of a lot of people to work in the technology industry; as an international student, it’s looked at well when you can land a job in your own industry. And when you give a platform for students, I believe that they are very thankful, and that’s reflected in their work.”
Richa also has no doubt of the value these international students add to the community.
“Australia is multicultural, and what international students bring is the diversification of knowledge and experiences of people in general. Everybody is a by-product of their surroundings, their upbringing and the environment they’ve been raised in; by the time international students arrive, their foundational value system is developed through different experiences from their life journey, and the journey as an international student adds to that foundation which matures during their student life and equips them for future.
“That’s what they help shape here; that is what they bring and give back to Australia,” she says.
Interested in learning more about how we help international education providers with student and learning management? Learn more here.