Study Queensland (SQ) has inducted the 2020 Queensland Student Advisory Panel (QSAP) to help inform the international education industry’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fourteen students from eleven countries will represent the almost 100,000 international students enrolled across Queensland’s education and training sector.

The panel will advise SQ on the needs of students and provide advice on policy and programs relating to international education and training.

SQ Executive Director Shannon Willoughby said seeking student feedback through representative bodies like QSAP was now more important than ever.

‘QSAP has helped us better understand why international students invest in Queensland for their futures and what sort of experience they want while they’re here,’ Ms Willoughby said.

‘As Queensland prepares for social and economic life post-COVID-19, QSAP will help the Queensland Government better cater to the needs of international students through education, employability and cultural engagement in the new era.

‘Like all of us, Queensland’s international student cohort is living in unprecedented times; their experiences have been made more difficult by being unable to return home and adjusting to online learning.’

QSAP will partner with SQ in a number of ways, including designing the Queensland International Student Leaders Forum and other SQ-led events, and helping develop SQ’s Student Support Framework.

Panel members are selected from students identified as leaders by their peers and institutions.

Domestic student representatives who are passionate about greater integration of international students within the education landscape are also involved in QSAP.

New panel member Tash Drepaul is currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts (English) at James Cook University.

The 21-year-old from Mauritius said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the majority of international students.

‘But there have been some great stories of students coming together to help each other out – whether that’s through mental health check-ins or cooking meals for our friends,’ Ms Drepaul said.

‘Everyone has now accepted the situation and they’re trying to move on.’

QSAP is an initiative of the International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016–2026.

QSAP 2020 representatives met virtually for the first time recently.

The Queensland Government recently boosted its international student welfare package to $15 million with the announcement of a $10 million welfare package to help students left financially vulnerable by COVID-19 to continue their studies.

International education is identified as Queensland’s second-most valuable services export in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

QSAP 2020 members

Kriti Garg India The University of Queensland
Ameya Deshmukh India The University of Queensland
Simon Wattanatum Thailand Queensland University of Technology
Rohan Gidwaney India Southern Cross University
Tash Drepaul Mauritius James Cook University
Maria Fernanda Colombia ASL
Anna Bejoy New Zealand Griffith University
Alistair Lau Hong Kong James Cook University
Irene Tomarong Philippines University of Sunshine Coast
Jeet Mukherjee India Central Queensland University
Peng Yu Australia (China) University of Southern Queensland
Crystal Paris Australia Bond University
Adriana Meneses Ecuador TAFE Queensland
Erin Ma China Queensland University of Technology