“You have to be very assertive to get assistance!”

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Nasrin Aidvandi, who was born in Iran, is studying Computing Information Technology at the Monash University, Caulfield Campus.

“Although I intend to study full-time this year, I may find that, as a parent of a young child, I’m forced to drop some subjects. Tutorial times are allocated on a first-in basis. The most popular time for tutorials is between 10 am and 4 pm. Last year, I had to drop some of my subjects, because I couldn’t get into a day time tutorial.

Tutorial groups are usually about 15 but can be as large as 25 at peak times. Tutors have a timetable on their door saying when they are available. They have a couple of hours during the week when they are available. Most are studying themselves and working part-time.

As a mature aged migrant woman, I definitely have had difficulties within the system. It was hard simply to make friends. In my tutorial for the marketing subject, other students were laughing because of the way I talk. Discussion is very important in that subject. Although I’d done very well when I studied marketing at TAFE, I ended up dropping the subject. The coordinator was sympathetic when I spoke to her, but she told me that, as the subject was an elective, I should drop it! There are lots of migrant students at Monash University and really, the response from the university to this kind of harassment is not good enough.

In a university environment, writing and speaking is important. You have to feel able to express yourself. You can’t learn in a lot of subjects without participating in the discussion. The university has a system of support for English-as-a-second-language students, and the service is very helpful if a student can access it. But there is a limited timetable. Classes are on at a specific time, and if you can’t attend, then that is just bad luck. I had trouble with writing, and I was able to get one appointment. The problem is that there is only one teacher available to offer this support! They need more people employed to help. So many students came to this woman for help that she was completely overworked. It is unrealistic to expect one person to service the needs of all the migrant students at the Caulfield campus.

It is exactly the same as the situation with tutors. The workers do their best to help the students, but there is not enough time to go around. Many students fall through the cracks. You need to be very assertive to get any assistance at all. No one will simply come and offer. They are all too busy.”

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