Promoting cultural diversity in the tertiary education sector: are we achieving anything?

The emphasis on promoting diversity in international education as globalisation becomes a way of life makes it easy to prioritise the image of a university deeply valuing diversity, rather than focusing on ensuring culturally diverse students are able to assimilate into local culture and improve their relationships with local students. Domestic attitudes have often assumed that international students are not as personally capable, especially where language contributes to their circumstances. This misconception can also be seen in the Australian employment market, where companies consider employing multicultural people to promote the notion that they support diversity. Cultural diversity is then celebrated on the surface, but privately regarded as a weakness.

This e-poster will explore whether Swinburne’s 2017 Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework (CDSF) has the potential to be a change agent in shifting domestic attitudes towards acceptance of diversity, and whether it can lead to increased interaction between local and international students.

From this e-poster, you will gain an understanding of how the focus on promotion of cultural diversity in international education affects the psyche and confidence of international students; and how the ‘university stereotype’ feeds the presumptuous belief that international students are not as capable as their Australian counterparts, which diminishes their value in the Australian employment market.

You will also obtain ideas to embed principles of cultural diversity in the curriculum, teaching styles, development opportunities, research, and partnerships you create with various organisations. You will leave wondering whether you need to re-evaluate your practices to create a more culturally inclusive environment, one that is not just reflected on the surface.

Ms Rameeza Barnes

Safer Community Advisor

Swinburne University of Technology

Rameeza Barnes is a Safer Community Advisor at Swinburne University of Technology. She previously worked as a Student Advocate and Academic Adviser for the Swinburne Students Amenities Association. Her address at the conference comes from her experiences as a culturally diverse student in Australia and overseas, and from working with international students in the ELICOS, VET and higher education sectors. Rameeza attended an American international boarding school in Mussoorie, India. She completed her bachelor degree at an American university in Hua Hin, Thailand, and her first master’s degree at a British university in Ningbo, China. She completed a graduate certificate and her second master’s degree in Australia, where has been living for the past six years. In November 2016, Rameeza helped launch Swinburne’s Financial Inclusion Action Plan to create a financially inclusive community for Swinburne students and staff. She is part of the consultation group for Swinburne’s Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework. Being an immigrant Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, she has a keen interest in working to address barriers faced by international students as they try to integrate into Australian culture. She previously worked as an International Student Adviser for Swinburne