Excelsia College students come from all over the world to study social work, counselling, business, creative and performing arts, accounting, and education. Over 80 per cent of our students speak a language other than English, and over 58 nationalities are represented at the College. We love this because Excelsia College aims to be a global, multicultural community where people share the same vision and values. It reminds us of the picture painted in Revelation 7:9, which talks about every nation and tribe coming together, and we aim to create such a community.
Did you know that in 2018, 876,399 international students were enrolled in educational programs across Australia? This is approximately 8.3 per cent more than in 2017, during which 796,130 international students were enrolled according to Australian Government Department of Education and Training (2019). Over three-quarters of these international students entered Australia through agents (ICEF Monitor, 2019). In terms of students studying ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students), China made up the largest source of enrolments at 23.6 per cent, followed by Colombia at 14.6 per cent of enrolments, Brazil at 10 per cent and Thailand at 6 per cent (Australian Government Department of Education Skills and Employment International student data summary, 2020).
Having friends and colleagues from across the globe reflects our increasingly diverse workplace and world. So in a context where Australia, and our College community is so multicultural, how we can learn and appreciate each other’s differences? And why is Excelsia pursuing the goal of being a multicultural college?
Diversity and multiculturalism help students, teaching and support staff gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of their peers as they take the time to understand one another and learn about each other’s upbringings, traditions, and knowledge. Diversity and multiculturalism also foster emotional skills such as understanding, empathy, and compassion. Staff and students gain greater cultural awareness and understanding that reflects the outside world, as well as practising critical thinking on current social issues surrounding cultural diversity.
At Excelsia College, we take pride in loving one another, learning about one another, and removing biases and preconceptions we might have. Harmony Day is prominent in Excelsia’s calendar, where we encourage staff and students to share their cultural heritage, including through food and clothing. Our chaplain also hosts a Nepalese BBQ where we celebrate South Asian culture, food, and music.
Being a multicultural community with smaller class sizes means we can learn to share our strengths, potential, the way we see each other and how we work together. We can gain a more accurate representation and knowledge of cultural groups.
Excelsia helps staff and students to gain global perspectives and practices that go beyond our own world views and we help to prepare students for careers in a variety of global settings. No matter where our students go once they graduate, they can take those valuable skills of empathy, critical thinking, and cultural awareness they learned at Excelsia into their local, national and international communities. Excelsia is building a culturally aware, global community in not only Sydney but also throughout the world.
Department of Education, Skills and Employment. (2020). End of year summary of international student data 2020 [PDF]. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. internationaleducation.gov.au/research/international-student-data/Documents/MONTHLY%20SUMMARIES/2020/Full%20year%20summary.pdf
Department of Education and Training. (2019). 2018 time series graph: International student enrolments in Australia 1994–2018. [PDF]. Australian Government Department of Education and Training. internationaleducation.gov.au/research/international-student-data/Documents/INTERNATIONAL%20STUDENT%20DATA/2018/2018%20Time%20Series%20Graph.pdf
ICEF Monitor. (2019, October 30). Education agents refer 75% of Australia’s international students. ICEF. monitor.icef.com/2019/10/education-agents-refer-75-of-australias-international-students/
A 2017 study conducted by Year13 (a digital platform seeking to help young people transition smoothly from high school into further work and study), revealed that 62 per cent of university students considered dropping out of their course (Bisson & Stubley, 2017, p.10). The study also found that young people selected their university or college based on three main contributors: 79 per cent based on the courses offered; 32 per cent because of the university’s prestigious reputation; and 36 per cent due to the university’s proximity to home (Bisson & Stubley, 2017, p.37).
It is common for university students to withdraw from their first course or waver in their commitment to continuing their educational studies. Reasons can include feeling unprepared for tertiary study, or a sense of urgency to decide what career they will pursue amid the stress of final exams. Likewise, students can feel pressure from their family to choose a high-earning profession such as law, dentistry, medicine, actuarial studies or engineering, or to not waste their high ATAR score on a lower-entry course.
Now more than ever before, workplaces want individuals who can develop real-world skills that go beyond textbooks. This includes the ability to develop a sense of self and moral compass which a person can then carry into their workplace. At Excelsia College, we believe in developing the student holistically. Our courses embed our Integrative Studies Program, a series of units with a distinctive Christian framework. Our faith-based learning encourages students to engage constructively in meaningful work within their chosen career field. Excelsia understands that it is normal for a person’s morals to naturally evolve, and that a person will seek meaning and truth throughout their lifetime. At Excelsia College, students are actively encouraged to explore their belief systems and their contributions to the world within a safe and accepting environment.
Excelsia’s Integrative Studies Program address a range of topic areas to provide practical tools and intellectual understanding to navigate the world’s various social and political contexts. Students explore the concept of ‘worldview’, which is fundamental for understanding different cultures. The skills garnered from our Integrative Studies Program can be applied to virtually any field students enter. For example, the Program explores ethics and the process of making ethical decisions – such as navigating equity, diversity, inclusion, disadvantage, human value, beneficial choices for the community as well as the individual, pursuit of integrity and truth in one’s vocation, leadership and work relations, and climate responsibility – not only applicable to a business setting, but also to the healthcare sector, creative and performing arts fields, and the education sector. The program encourages individuals to focus on character formation and resilience skills – bouncing back from challenges, building community networks, deep friendships and adaptation to change.
Students also are exposed to the Old and New Testament through biblical studies and a survey of major belief and philosophical systems, in order to think deeply about their own sense of meaning and purpose. Christian Scriptures and their relevance are explored in the context of the development of Western culture, as well as to students’ own lives and belief systems. Students also explore vocational studies and the bigger picture beyond their academic marks and achieving the number one position within their chosen profession. Students examine what it looks like to find their higher purpose and the meaningful contribution they can make to the world. Some students choose a serving profession such as teaching, counselling, or social work because they can make tangible and authentic changes in people’s lives, and our creative and performing arts students explore ways in which their creativity can interrogate cultural and social assumptions about the world and challenge social norms or provide critical reflection through integrative studies.
Bisson, R., & Stubley, W. (2017). After the ATAR: Understanding how gen Z transition into further education & employment [PDF]. Year13, Australia. https://cica.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Y13_YS_ResearchPaper.compressed.pdf