Our international friends

Universities have traditionally provided refuges where teachers and students can come together free of restriction in the interests of learning and the pursuit of knowledge.

As such they are pioneers of globalisation, participating in the international community and bringing international perspective and profile to the surrounding community.

I have had cause to consider this recently, after another spate of cowardly attacks on our students in our community. Once again, whether opportunistic or more targeted, these attacks involved our international students – young people who have left their homes and chosen to come to Australia, and in particular Tasmania, to pursue their academic studies.

While UTAS works with the State Government, Tasmania Police and a number of other organisations and individuals to tackle the issue of student safety from the ground up, the University also has a leadership role to play in articulating to the wider Tasmanian community the benefits of internationalisation.

This University is an institution founded on principles of almost a millennia – part of its mission is to create an environment where academic inquiry transcends geographical and political barriers for the advancement of humanity.

UTAS actively encourages and welcomes students and staff from around the world to its campuses. Those that are attracted come not just for the opportunity to study at this University but also because of the location, the environment and the community that is Tasmania.

Tasmania gains in turn from interaction with international students– there is a broadening and enriching of cultural perspective and intellect, social and economic benefit. Our communities are enriched and strengthened, increasingly civil and urbane, welcoming and tolerant.

While international students are in Tasmania they want to be part of our community, from campus life through social interaction to enjoyment of our superb natural setting. At UTAS we try to deliver a student experience of this richness, working hand-in-hand with the community to add to our undoubted attractiveness as destination.

If we are to be a forward-thinking, innovative yet sustainable institution for Tasmania, we need to embrace internationalisation completely –welcoming staff and students from all nations into a society based on respect and civility, and providing the safe environment that they rightly expect.

Peter Rathjen

Published on: 19 Jun 2011 9:57am