Online learning in the age of COVID-19 with student Ruixin Yang

Study Social Work in Australia


For Flinders Master of Social Work student, Ruixin Yang, the transition into online learning has proved interesting so far.

“Amazingly, everything could be delivered by the internet, we don’t need to attend a particular location for study or to participate in some events,” says Ruixin. “However, having less social connection makes me feel boring!”

Connection and community are important for Ruixin, who chose to study social work due to a deep-seated need to “… fulfill my values and help vulnerable groups as much as I can.” So when COVID-19 restrictions hit, Ruixin was impressed with how the greater university-wide community slid into action.

“I received many emails from International Student Services, reminding me to join in all kinds of online activities,” he says. “But what amazed me – a lot – was that Flinders provided scholarships and an emergency package. This was a tough period for international students, so I really appreciated these [actions].”

Professor Colin Stirling, Vice Chancellor & Saadia Adnan
Vice Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling & Saadia Adnan

University support

The South Australian government has shown itself to be very generous to international students – as compared to other Australian states – announcing a $13.8 million support package, designed to support international students currently residing in South Australia and facing financial hardship. The Flinders University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Colin Stirling, has also personally reached out to students; being photoshopped into fun graduation photos and, alongside the senior executive team, helping to fundraise for the $12.5 million Flinders Student Hardship Support Fund.

This package is funded by the University and includes contributions from Flinders staff, alumni and the South Australian government. This level of interaction from a VC to students is unheard of at most Australian universities – and a reflection of how Flinders’ commitment to students permeates to the university’s core.

Adelaide lifestyle – the perfect student city

Ruixin recommends Adelaide as the perfect student city. “It’s such a nice city, without a huge population,” making it ideal for student living. “There are mountains on the east side, ocean on the west – they are both easy to visit and I do love the sunsets and fresh air!”

The Flinders Bedford Park campus itself is also great for an international student. “It’s in a good location, being a little further south of the city,” Ruixin, enthuses. “You’re not in the crowded city area, but you’re not far away from it for convenience.” The new train line means it will be even quicker to get from the city to Bedford Park and Tonsley campuses. Additionally, Ruixin has found the “…affordability and nice people make a difference. There is a lot of support from the local government as well as the uni.”

Adelaide itself is one of the most affordable state capital cities in Australia for students (QS Best Student Cities 2018) and is rated in the Top 10 World’s healthiest cities (Spotahome 2018). The state has also held an enviable track record during the COVID-19 crisis, with swift action in putting restrictions in place. SA is now one of the safest places in Australia, with more testing per capita, very few COVID-19 related deaths, and, to date, few cases discovered since April.

Online study advice

Ruixin has some critical advice for students studying uni online.

“I recommend everyone could create a space that is just for study, where you can focus on your work and not be distracted,” he says. “Although we have to study at home, we cannot lose our efficiency!”

As a student social worker, Ruixin understands that strong community connections and good mental health are intuitively linked.

“Most of us (international students) are far from home, so it’s important to keep up with friends and family,” says Ruixin.

“You have to try your best to connect online and make an effort to make new friends too. We have many interesting events from ISS, and these are good chances to get to know your peers better.” While acknowledging that there are added barriers now, Ruixin’s answer is simple. “Don’t be shy and just do it!”

Why chose to study in Australia at Flinders?

“By studying a Master of Social Work, I wanted to gain knowledge of how the Social Work industry in Australia works,” says Ruixin. “It’s a good way to practice my language skills and to learn more from the local culture.”

Ruixin chose to study social work at Flinders due to the “…good academic quality. That was important to me as an international student.”

No. 1 in SA in Social Work for full-time employment, median salary and student support (postgraduate)
The Good Universities Guide 2020, public SA-founded universities only

Real-world work experience

“For me, the most important part of my degree was the placement,” says Ruixin, naming it as one of the best experiences of his time at uni so far. “It really helped me to practice and absorb the knowledge I learned academically, in practice.”

Ruixin’s first placement was in a Catholic school, and gave him the opportunity to experience working in the social work industry, within an Australian context, for the first time. “There is a lot of knowledge to learn that can not be accessed from books.”

Discover fellow post-grad student Ben Bai’s success story from placement to career – here.

Post graduate plans

Ruixin can’t wait to get into the workforce, and is glad his placement has provided him with real world industry experience. His advice for international students thinking of making the leap?

“I do love our uni, and for me, my motto is ‘if you never try, you never know’, so go for it. Accept the challenge and become a brand new you.”

Get ready to grow and become a leader in your field with a postgraduate degree from Australia’s Flinders University. Discover how to apply here – and kick start your future career today. What are you waiting for?


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