Interview with international alumnus Mr. Dat Duong Van
What were you hoping to achieve from your Australian university experience? Did it live up to your expectations?
When I went to Curtin University in late 1993, Vietnam was very isolated from the outside world due to the US embargo. All information we knew about Australian universities was from a small library of the Australian Embassy in Hanoi.
At that time, the public health education was very underdeveloped in the country. The entire health system was curative medicine focused while many vital preventive measures were often neglected.
I went to Curtin University with a lot of hopes and dreams: to learn and come back home to help develop public health education in the country. Curtin University’s Master and PhD programmes are very practical which provided me with substantial knowledge and experiences in research, training, design and administration of public health policies and programmes that I find very useful in my daily works.
Would you recommend study at an Australian university to your friends at home? (Please explain your answer)
Yes. I did explain to many parents and prospect students advantages of the Australian education system. I also give them information on the challenges they may have to face in Australia (language barriers, culture shock, differences between the Vietnamese and Australian education, personal relationship, etc) and give them advice on how to cope with difficulties and how to integrate into the Australian society from my own experiences.
How can Australian universities improve the experience for international students?
With its socio-economic advance, Australia plays a crucial role in the Asia Pacific region. Australian educators may consider further internationalize their education programmes (rather than heavily focused only on the Australian and/or NZ context). The internship and practical programmes should be further strengthened with a strong linkage with the private and civil society organizations networks in the Asia Pacific region. Universities should further utilize the Alumni networks to generate internship and employment opportunities for both Australian and international students. In addition, cultural orientation and local community support programmes for international students are really helpful as it helps them overcome socio-cultural barriers for better integrations in the Australian society. In my views, these will help international students achieve their academic targets at schools and have unforgettable memories of the beautiful Australia. (For me, I often see Perth is a second home that I always dream to come back for holiday!)
Dat's photo was taken in mountainous Hoang Su Phi District of Ha Giang province of Vietnam