New Zealand and Aussie university students feel pressured to 'tutor' international students

An Australian comedian has condemned her university for "forcing" students who speak English to become "unpaid tutors" for international students and the issue isn't just limited to Australia.

Meshel Laurie penned an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald about her experience returning to university to study a master's degree.

She claims the university "deliberately" groups' students who can't speak English with those who can, so the native English speakers can teach the others.

"The English speakers bear the burden of catching the others up, translating the course content form them and helping them pass," she wrote.

The experience is felt in New Zealand too. Two students from Victoria University of Wellington told Newshub they felt they spend a disproportionate amount of time explaining course material to international students.

"When you're put into groups within the tutorial it's frustrating because you spend the whole time explaining the task overdoing the task," said one.

"There are some [international students] who speak like, zero English and I don't know why they bothered because you can see they're struggling," she continued.

However, she says it's not the fault of the university.

"[Victoria] University has so many resources and places to go to for help with things, like essay writing classes but I guess it's up to them whether they make use of them."

Another student said they feel the same way in group settings.

"If I'm put together with an international student in a group assignment context I find I spend a lot of time explaining ideas around the course material," business student Shaun Bennett told Newshub.

"I spend time explaining to them the actual assignment, more than the course material," he said.

He agrees the university does enough to accommodate students.

"From an English-speaking student perspective, I think they do enough to accommodate them."

"Victoria University of Wellington provides extensive support for international students," said Kristy McClure, the deputy director of international students. 

"All students can access one-to-one support through Student Learning and the team also provides international specific support through a programme called PALS  Preparation for Academic Life and Study."

The university also offers conversation groups for informal language support, and a buddy programme which matches students together so they can learn each other's languages. 



Contact Newshub with your story tips: