Meet Thi Huong Nguyen, Flinders International Master of Information Technology student, currently studying online from Vietnam. Flinders International Student Services’ Dr Shervin Shokri chatted with Thi about her online study experience – and her advice for students concerned about commencing online study offshore.
“I was quite nervous initially about how the course would go,” she says. “I wondered whether the quality of education is the same as studying on campus? Could I manage to learn while doing personal tasks? That is why I enrolled in only two topics last semester.”
Lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions in her home county Vietnam created additional pressures for Thi – who had to quickly learn to navigate study, work, and looking after her two young children.
“Due to COVID-19, I could neither send my kids to kindergarten nor hire a babysitter, so I had to keep two kids by my side while studying; the smallest one was just a 7-month year old.”
Thi carefully considered her options with regards to starting online – or waiting to begin when she could get to study in Australia. For Thi, it was an easy decision for the master’s student to commence her Information Technology degree online during the height of COVID-19.
Study online now, join on-campus later
“I didn’t want to put my future on pause,” she says. “Flinders allowed offshore students to study a part-time load, two or three topics per semester, so I decided to study online now and join Flinders on-campus later.”
With many factors impacting her final choice, the Information Technology student ultimately decided the positives far outweighed any potential negatives.
“Studying online can save a lot of time for transportation. We can learn contiguous classes held on different campuses without moving,” she says of her motivations.
It was also a strong recommendation from her friends who had studied with Flinders that helped her decide.
“The main reason I chose Flinders was thanks to my friend’s recommendation. They mentioned excellent teachers, modern facilities, unparalleled student support, a student-focused university, and also, scholarship policies.”
An enjoyable online study experience
Thi found the process of online learning to be incredibly positive, after her initial fears.
“Online study has been such a fantastic journey,’ she says. “From being scared of failure at the beginning of the semester, I became more confident. By the end of the semester, I had finished all my topics well.”
Thi feels like she has leveled up her soft skills.
“I learned many skills that I believe future employers will highly value,” she says of her online study.
“The quality of education was excellent. Besides that, I also made many friends from different countries which is a sweet part of university life. Now, I am ready to study full-time load in the next semester.”
High-quality education – online and onshore
Online study offered the same high-quality education as on-campus, according to Thi.
“Yes, absolutely,” she says. “Except for attending virtual classes instead of physical classes, there was no difference for me.”
Having experienced the online learning system, Thi maintains that access is simple with a standard internet speed.
“Flinders has an excellent and stable learning online system. It included all materials and resources required for studying.”
“Study time is flexible, or if we missed class, we could watch its recorded video. The student support services are beneficial and timely, from English skills to whatever concerns we had.”
Thi also found it easy to connect with her classmates thanks to the support of friendly topic coordinators, lecturers, and academics.
Advice for prospective online international students?
“No one can be sure when COVID-19 will be controlled and what else can happen in the future,” says Thi.
“So, instead of waiting in vain, let’s start studying online and be ready for a future job. When COVID-19 goes through, the economy will recover, and many job opportunities will be available for those who have been ready for it.”