International students on the rise at Australian schools

There were more than 25,000 international students in Australian schools last year, an increase of 11 per cent on 2016, mostly arriving from China and India.

What the schools do to accommodate these foreign students – the majority of whom come from non-English speaking countries and very different cultures – is illustrated at Toorak College, a girls’ boarding school on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. “We’ve just finished renovating our boarding house,” says Caralyn Day, the director of international and boarding at Toorak College. “It’s had a full redesign with feng shui principles built into the structure.” Day says the new kitchens, overseen by two chefs, has varied menus but they include noodles, hotpots and Chinese and south-east Asian dishes every day of the week.

The school has a dedicated English language unit that ensures the foreign students are sufficiently fluent so they have every chance of high ATARs in their end-of-school exams.

“Email is not big in China,” she says. “They WeChat. So all of our parent communications and documents to our Chinese families go out on WeChat and that’s the way they communicate with us. You even have to get the finance people onto WeChat, because it’s also a payments platform and that’s how the Chinese parents pay their accounts and send money for their daughters.”

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