The Experience of International Students Before and During COVID-19: Housing, work, study, and wellbeing

 University of Technology Sydney, Australian Research Council study (DP190101073),

International students’ experience of renting accommodation in Australia is a crucial but overlooked determinant of their wellbeing, which has been brought into stark relief by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report is based on two surveys of international students in the private rental sector (PRS). The first survey was conducted in the second half of 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second survey in June and the first week of July 2020, during the pandemic.

The findings of the first survey show that a substantial proportion of international students were already in a precarious situation before the pandemic.

The second survey reveals the various impacts of the pandemic on international students in the private rental sector and the extent to which their circumstances have deteriorated.

The report also draws on data from the initial stage of the qualitative component of the study – semi-structured in-depth interviews with international students conducted between April and July 2020. Quotes from some of the 26 semi-structured interviews conducted thus far, are presented alongside the survey data evidence that follows.

Although the focus is on the experiences of private renting, the report has taken a broader sociological approach to student housing problems and, as such, it offers wider insights into the wellbeing, employment, and income situations of international students at a crucial turning point for the Australian higher education sector

Life satisfaction and mental health among transgender students

Life satisfaction and mental health among transgender students in Norway

Anderssen, N., Sivertsen, B., Lønning, K.J. et al.

BMC Public Health 20, 138 (2020)

Background

Social attitudes to transgender persons and other gender minorities vary around the world, and in many cultures, prejudices and social stigma are common. Consequently, transgender persons face challenges related to discrimination and negative attitudes among the public. The purpose of this study was to compare life satisfaction, loneliness, mental health, and suicidal behavior among transgender students with cisgender students’ experiences in a nationwide sample of Norwegian students pursuing higher education.

Methods

In total,50,054 full-time Norwegian students completed an online questionnaire (response rate 30.8%), of whom 15,399 were cisgender males, 34,437 cisgender females, 28 individuals who reported being binary transgender (12 transwomen and 16 transmen), and 69 individuals non-binary transgender persons. The measures included questions concerning gender identity, life satisfaction (Satisfaction With Life Scale), loneliness (The Three-Item Loneliness Scale), mental health problems (Hopkins Symptoms Check List), mental disorders, and suicidal ideation, suicidal behavior, and self-harm. Chi-square tests, Independent-Samples Kruskal-Wallis tests, and logistic regression analyses were used to examine differences between gender identities.

Results

Transgender students reported significantly more psychosocial burdens on all measures. There were no significant differences in any of the measures between the binary and non-binary transgender students.

Conclusion

The findings call for increased awareness about welfare and health for transgender students in Norway. Higher education institutions need to consider measures at various levels to establish a learning environment that is more inclusive for gender minorities.

More LGBTQI content needed at medical schools – survey

Radio New Zealand,  23 June 2018

There are gaps in gender identity and sexuality education at medical schools, staff at the country’s two providers say. The findings were published in the most recent New Zealand Medical Journal, after surveying staff from both the Universities of Otago and Auckland.

Two-thirds said it was important and both schools would like to see more content and earlier education for medical students. When asked how much LGBTQI content was included in their module, 54 percent responded “none at all”, while 33 percent responded “a little.”

The survey’s author, University of Otago’s Charlene Rapsey, said education relating to gender identity and sexuality did happen but most material was not covered until a student’s third year – and it should at second year.

Exploring psychosocial predictors of STI testing in University students

BMC Public Health, 2018 18:664, Published: 29 May 2018

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5587-2

Abstract:

Background

To explore university students’ Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing knowledge, psychosocial and demographic predictors of past STI testing behaviour, intentions to have an STI test, and high risk sexual behaviour, to inform interventions promoting STI testing in this population.

Methods

A cross-sectional, quantitative online survey was conducted in March 2016, recruiting university students from North East Scotland via an all-student email. The anonymous questionnaire assessed student demographics (e.g. sex, ethnicity, age), STI testing behaviours, sexual risk behaviours, knowledge and five psychological constructs thought to be predictive of STI testing from theory and past research: attitudes, perceived susceptibility to STIs, social norms, social fear and self-efficacy.

Results

The sample contained 1294 sexually active students (response rate 10%) aged 18–63, mean age = 23.61 (SD 6.39), 888 (69%) were female. Amongst participants, knowledge of STIs and testing was relatively high, and students held generally favourable attitudes. 52% reported ever having an STI test, 13% intended to have one in the next month; 16% reported unprotected sex with more than one ‘casual’ partner in the last six months. Being female, older, a postgraduate, longer UK residence, STI knowledge, perceived susceptibility, subjective norms, attitudes and self-efficacy all positively predicted past STI testing behaviour (p < 0.01). Perceived susceptibility to STIs and social norms positively predicted intentions to have an STI test in the next month (p  < 0.05); perceived susceptibility also predicted past high-risk sexual behaviour (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

Several psychosocial predictors of past STI testing, of high-risk sexual behaviour and future STI intentions were identified. Health promotion STI testing interventions could focus on male students and target knowledge, attitude change, and increasing perceived susceptibility to STIs, social norms and self-efficacy towards STI-testing.

Temporary open access to special journal issue on Trans Youth in Education

Sex Education, volume 18, 2018: Special Issue on Trans Youth in Education

Sex Education journal has published a special issue on Trans Youth in Education.  This is now out and is available on Open Access for a few weeks only. 

Documentary gives insight into risks of sexual assault among Australia’s international students

ABC NewsRadio Breakfast, First posted 27/04/2018 at 09:02:46
Half a million international students, most from Asia, are enrolled to study in Australia. It’s the country’s third largest export industry, worth $18 billion.

But Australia’s reputation as a safe and sunny place to study is under threat after widespread disclosures of rape and sexual assault.

Australia: Rape on Campus follows a six-month investigation into sexual assault at the country’s universities, exploring how international students, far from home and family, are especially at risk.

It follows an Australian Human Rights Commission survey which found 1.6 percent of students experienced sexual assault in a university setting in 2015 or 2016, one in five were international students.

Journalist Aela Callan is behind the documentary and she spoke to ABC’s Fiona Ellis-Jones from Berlin.

Her documentary, Australia: Rape on Campus, will be screened on Al Jazeera.