Australia Awards students start with a ‘G’day’

Australia Awards scholarship students Soira Tamang and Sauna Fathimath (l-r)

A long way from her Maldivian home, Sauna Fathimath says she would be “lost” without Flinders University’s Introductory Academic Program (IAP).

The 28-year-old (pictured right Soira Tamang) with is one of almost 130 international Australia Awards scholarship students enrolled in this year’s IAP – an intensive five-week program delivered by the Transition Office with support from across the University.

“We know everything about the campus – we know where to go and who to ask for help but without the program we’d be lost,” Ms Fathimath, who will soon begin a Masters of Education (Special Education) at Flinders, says.

“If the program didn’t exist we wouldn’t understand anything and we’d have to ask people for help all the time,” she says.

As part of the 2014 Australia Awards scholarship, formerly AusAID, students from 27 different countries including Burundi, Haiti and Myanmar are enhancing their relevant skills to begin academic life at Flinders, with sessions ranging from Australian academic writing conventions, numeracy and public speaking to familiarisation with Flinders Learning Online.

Fellow Australia Awards student Soira Tamang, who is enrolled in a Masters of Engineering, agrees the program is a valuable experience.

“It gives us a good orientation and you get to know how to access the different services the University provides,” Ms Tamang, 25, from Bhutan, says.

“The education system differs from county to country, and the tertiary sector is different again, so when we eventually do begin our courses it will be much easier,” she says.

Associate Professor Salah Kutieleh, Director of the Transition Office, says the contingent is the largest-ever for Flinders, reflecting the quality of the IAP and the University’s courses.

“IAP students form fruitful academic partnerships and develop life-long friendships as a result of their participation in these formative first weeks,” Associate Professor Kutieleh says.

“While there is a strong academic focus, the IAP is not all about work,” he says.

“There is time to have fun, to share experiences and to learn about Australian culture.

“Students get to sing and dance at the annual IAP dinner, take a day trip to Victor Harbor and even learn how to say ‘G’day mate!’ during a popular seminar on Australian slang.

“It’s as much about social networking as it is about learning.”

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