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NMIT international students selected for Round Table with Deputy Prime Minister

11 Sep 2009

Three students from Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) have been selected to participate in an International Student Round Table convened by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Education, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP.

The NMIT students will also extend a personal invitation to the Deputy Prime Minister to visit NMIT to talk with international students.

Diana Naranjo Fino and Asfand Yar Khalid Butt will attend the international students Round Table in Canberra along with fellow NMIT international student Dinushan Samaranayake (not pictured). Asfand Yar Khalid Butt (Pakistan), Dinushan Samaranayake (Sri Lanka) and Diana Naranjo Fino (Colombia) are among 31 international students selected from institutions across Australia to participate in the Round Table on September 14 and 15. They were selected from over 1300 applications nationwide to attend the Round Table which has been organised by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The Round Table will give the international student delegates the opportunity to discuss the issues affecting international students in Australia and to suggest solutions.

Twenty-year-old NMIT Advanced Diploma of Accounting student, Asfand Yar Khalid Butt, says his family in Pakistan were “overwhelmed with happiness” when they learnt of his selection for the Round Table. “I know I have a big responsibility on my shoulders and I will not forget that,” says Asfand.

Asfand met with around 40 other NMIT international students this week to define the issues and solutions that they will take to the Round Table in Canberra. The issues that they will raise are common to international students throughout Australia and include:

limitations to the amount of paid work international students can do while studying in Australia
availability of paid work
travel concession entitlements (in Victoria and NSW)
the availability and quality of accommodation for international students
personal safety
access to and simplifying information relating to Australian Permanent Residency visas
misinformation coming from migration (education) agents in the international students' home countries
access to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) testing
increasing the amount of funding allocated to provide support to international students and their Australian education providers.
Asfand, from the Pakistani city of Lahore, says he chose to study in Australia because his cousins, Aqeel and Adeel, were living here and had recommended NMIT to him. He also felt that because of its lower profile in international politics, Australia was a safer, more stable and secure place to study that also offered more opportunities. He describes his experience so far in Australia as “great” but recognises a need to act on a variety of issues impacting on international students in Australia.

“One has to be patient, think more and suggest ideas and solutions,” says Asfand who also plans to deliver a personal invitation to Julia Gillard inviting her to visit NMIT and to talk to its international students. “I'm going to invite her (Julia Gillard) to NMIT and ask her to speak with our students. This will give her a better perspective and our students would be more than welcoming and see that she is serious about the issues faced by international students.”

Asfand is hopeful that the Round Table will be a positive step forward for international students in Australia. “When a person like Julia Gillard invites you then why don't you go?” says Asfand “it shows that they're serious…it should happen more than once a year.”

Asfand applied to participate in the Round Table after NMIT Commerce Department International Student Coordinator, Jane Kypreos, brought the opportunity to his attention.

“They (NMIT) do care about international students, it's a good institute to be at,” says Asfand who credits his mother and father (who has recently completed a PhD in Human Rights) as a major influence on his willingness to get involved and improve the situation for international students.

“They love peace; they believe in discussing - not fighting. They have talked about this all our lives,” adds Asfand.


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.