Congratulations to our 2020-21 finalists!

The Victorian International Education Awards are an initiative of the Victorian Government to celebrate outstanding international students and education providers in Victoria, recognising their commitment to the sector and leadership in our community.

These prestigious awards recognise and showcase exceptional Victorian international students, alumni and education providers in our community who champion international education in Victoria and across the globe.

Now, more than ever, let’s celebrate the changemakers in our community.

Student Prizes

Award winners in each student category, with the exception of the International Alumnus of the Year, will be awarded $6,000 each to support their studies. Up to two runners-up per student category will be awarded $2,000 each.

The recipient of the 'Premier's Award – International Student of the Year' will receive an additional $10,000 to support their studies. For more information on the eligibility criteria, visit Terms and Conditions.

Student Award Finalists

International Alumnus of the Year


Dr Jeetendra Mathur (India)

Master of Business Administration (Healthcare Management), Deakin University

It is said that `leaders are born, not made', but in my case, I wasn't born a leader; my studies and extracurricular activities have made me one.

Inspired by seeing his mother, a doctor, saving lives and his father running a successful pharmaceutical company, Jeetendra started his medical career after completing his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees in 2010.

In 2019, he came to Melbourne to do an MBA (Healthcare Management) at Deakin University, where his initial feelings of nervousness were quickly replaced by feelings of being supported, guided, respected and included.

The MBA program offered deep insight into the healthcare sector while also allowing Jeetendra to hone his leadership skills which he now brings to his roles as a Primary Healthcare Manager and as co-founder and project manager for start-ups involved in AI-based healthcare solutions.

Jeetendra was presented with the coveted 'Indian Achievers' Award in Healthcare Excellence 2021' and 'The 2022 Global Healthcare Award' for outstanding contribution to the healthcare sector.

Outside of university, Jeetendra felt safe as he embraced the experience of exploring the city and the state.


April Valle (Philippines)

Master of Urban Planning, University of Melbourne

Living in Melbourne enriched my educational experience by allowing me to benefit from learning opportunities outside of the classroom, which my university also highly encouraged, as I lived and experienced how theories that I learned about in my studies were applied in real-life situations.

April chose to undertake her Master of Urban Planning at Melbourne University because, being one of the world's most liveable cities, Melbourne is one of most successful case studies for urban planning.

During her studies, April also participated in exchange programs to Colombia and the Netherlands, proudly showcasing the high calibre of work in Victoria's urban planning and design industries.

Since returning to the Philippines in 2020, April has continued to be an advocate for the university and for Melbourne.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she promoted and strengthened her connections with the Philippines and Victoria to encourage alumni to continue business and cultural relationships with Australian companies and organisations, including facilitating online networking opportunities such as webinars, virtual conferences and hackathon competitions.

This has contributed to raising awareness about Australia in the Philippines and has opened doors for future collaborations.


Daniel Tan (Malaysia)

Bachelor of Commerce, University of Melbourne

I am a strong advocate for international students to do more than just have good grades because Melbourne and the institution can provide a myriad of incredibly eye-opening experiences but sometimes that is found outside of books.

An entrepreneur at heart, Daniel knew early on that he wanted to start his own business.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University in 2017, Daniel acknowledges that experiences outside the classroom played a strong role in fuelling his passion for business and start-ups and gave him the mentors, connections and pathways that have allowed him to succeed.

His entrepreneurial journey has involved starting a digital marketing agency in Melbourne in 2018, which expanded into Adelaide and Malaysia in the following two years, before pivoting into an end-to-end video production start-up company, Vimi, of which he is the co-founder and CEO.

International Student of the Year – Higher Education


Tian Ying Chng (Malaysia)

Master of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University

I aspire to be a sports chiropractor that can travel all over the world to assist athletes and people towards better health and performance, and to also contribute back to this society that has given me the opportunity to grow into the individual I am today.

Tian Ying's enthusiastic approach to embracing opportunities and helping others is evident in her raft of connections since arriving in Victoria in 2016.

From teaching dance to people with Down syndrome and giving online dance classes to Victorian and Malaysian students during the pandemic to working or volunteering at significant sporting events, including the Australian Open, Tian Ying has made an outstanding contribution to the community.

Notably, she recognises that these extra-curricular opportunities have fuelled her personal growth, connections and leadership skills.

Studying in Victoria’s multicultural and welcoming community has been a rewarding experience for Tian Ying, allowing her to expand her connections and knowledge through meeting new people from around the world and local Australians.

Tian Ying is now undertaking a Master of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University.


Olivia Sharon Ephraim (Papua New Guinea)

Master of Public Health, University of Melbourne

If you have a dream in life, studying in Melbourne will not only help achieve it, it will maximize the leadership potential that is in you and prepare you to be the next global leader in the making.

Studying in Melbourne is set to help Olivia acquire the skills to address vitally important social and health reforms in her home country.

After 10 years of working in clinical and public health dealing with gender-based violence, Olivia is dedicated to finding evidence-based solutions that can help lead to improved outcomes in the areas of family violence, child abuse, sexual reproductive health issues, and psychological and mental health issues in Papua New Guinea and the Asia-Pacific.

Supported by an Australia Awards Scholarship, Olivia is confident that the knowledge and leadership development she has achieved through studying at Melbourne University will assist in her mission to make Papua New Guinea a safer place to live.

She has also added to her skill set by undertaking additional studies, such as a Certificate in Domestic and Family Violence Support and a raft of relevant short courses offered by the university.


Divyangana Sharma (India)

Bachelor of Nursing, Holmesglen Institute

The cultural diversity, inclusion of LGBTQIA+ community, education opportunities, art and culture is what makes Melbourne a unique city and works like a magnet for people wanting to study abroad.

Regarding the fight against COVID-19, Victorians will always be grateful for the selfless contribution and expertise of people like Divyangana Sharma and her healthcare colleagues.

Arriving in Melbourne to study nursing at Holmesglen Institute in February 2020, Divyangana soon joined the state’s frontline healthcare workforce by working at pop-up COVID-19 testing sites between classes.

Divyangana has received multiple acknowledgements for her leadership and academic achievement, passionate for mental health and being a voice for international students. This has included being named the International Student of the Year at Holmesglen Institute, which also nominated her for the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics’ Outstanding International Student Award.

As a qualified Division 2 nurse, Divyangana is confident that the training she has completed is supporting her in providing exceptional health care to those in need.

International Student of the Year – Research


Mavis Boamah (Ghana)

Doctor of Philosophy, Swinburne University of Technology

I am a proud Victorian student. I am ambitious and I know that Victoria is indeed the state to live in to achieve your ambitious goals.

A sociologist researching refugee policy and education, Mavis successfully connects to the wider world while pursuing her ambitious life goals from Melbourne.

Mavis is confident that her post-graduate studies will lead to opportunities in academia or in policy research that may eventually contribute to more supportive and comprehensive resettlement policies and programs for refugees in the future.

Since arriving in Australia in 2017, she has had paid and volunteer roles that connect her to the community. She is also committed to supporting other international students, most notably through advancing Swinburne’s Higher Degree by Research Buddy Program in 2021.

She engages with global communities by being involved in the Information Urbanism Research hub, the Australian Sociological Association, the International Sociological Association - Junior Sociologist Network and the United Nations Volunteers program.


Ritika Saxena (India)

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

When you move to Victoria, you are an international student. But by the time you finish your degree, you will be truly global.

Since arriving in Victoria as an 18-year-old, Ritika has been an active and enthusiastic supporter of her student peer group, the universities at which she has studied and the broader community in which she lives.

Now a PhD student involved in stem cell research in world-class laboratories, Ritika has developed the ability to set up complex and exciting experiments to help search for the elusive apex rare haematopoietic stem cell.

Ritika aims to one day have her own research group and help patients who need a bone marrow transplant.

Continually learning new skills, such as confocal microscopy, helped her to win the Melbourne Medical School’s Research Symposium 2021 Image Contest. She is also a part of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW).


Meltem Bayrak (Turkey)

Doctor of Philosophy, RMIT

My learnings from three great institutions - CSIRO, RMIT and ANSTO - have provided me with a strong capability that will open a lot of doors for me all around the world.

Six years of studying and living in Melbourne has helped equip Meltem with world-class research skills and connections that allow her to explore how personalised nutrition can enable the optimum delivery of nutrients.

In a collaborative project involving RMIT, the CSIRO and INRAE (France), Meltem’s Ph.D. studies in Applied Chemistry focus on controlling the digestion kinetics of food to design personalised food structures that may improve the health of people with food-related ailments or those who want to optimise their health.

Her studies in Melbourne were conducted in world-class laboratories in a multicultural environment that provided strong research collaborations.

Beyond the opportunities and education obtained in Melbourne, Meltem now considers her network of leading researchers as one of her greatest assets.

Meltem is also the first Turkish woman to be selected for Homeward Bound, a global 12-month leadership initiative for women with a background in STEM.

International Student of the Year – Regional


Minh Duc Nguyen (Vietnam)

Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University

Studying in Victoria will provide you with high-quality education, excellent educational experiences, and exciting career development opportunities. To be sure, there will be challenges, but with those challenges comes opportunity.

Duc successfully balances the demands of his full-time PhD research into sustainable waste management, working part-time and giving back to his fellow students.

His research looks at how Geelong-based water authority Barwon Water can beneficially reuse waste products from water treatment plants.

Among his academic accolades is receiving the Nancy Millis Memorial PhD Award

2020 from Water Research Australia, recognising his initiative, exceptional qualities and passion for research.

As a program manager for the Australia Water Association (Australia New Zealand Biosolids Partnership), Duc works with biosolids experts and managers to promote the sustainable treatment of biosolids and has fostered international connections.

His wide-ranging contributions to fostering student networks includes founding a group that supports Vietnamese students in Geelong. Started during the pandemic, the group continues to be a valuable resource for its 600 members.


Aayushree Kharel (Nepal)

Doctor of Philosophy, Deakin University

My long-term goal is to establish a research and diagnostic lab focused on crops and plant diseases to address the issue of food insecurity. It is a long journey and I believe I have already started by building the foundation.

Aayushree’s outstanding academic achievements are central to her aim of making a difference in the world through a research-based approach to improving food security.

Soon after completing a Master of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics at Deakin University, Aayushree was accepted to study for a PhD, receiving the Deakin University Post Graduate Research Scholarship. Her research topic is focused on understanding plant diseases and how the pathogen and the plant interact.

Accessing scholarship support has been an important part of the journey for the plant pathology researcher, the first person from Nepal to be awarded the Deakin University Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Award.

Aayushree is working towards publishing more papers by the end of his PhD to build a strong profile in research and gain exposure to scientific writing to assist with future grant applications. She has built a strong network of experts and early career scientists through participation in conferences and social gatherings. She received the best presenter award at the Australasian Plant Pathology Conference in 2021.


Ching Ying Lee (Malaysia)

Master of Teaching (Secondary), Federation University

Here (in Victoria) you meet people from different backgrounds that shape your cultural awareness, make connections with local Australians, enjoy a high quality of education with great mentors, teachers, respectful youngsters and more.

Pursuing a teaching qualification at Ballarat’s Federation University has given Ching a valuable perspective on Victoria’s regional education opportunities, as she previously completed two undergraduate degrees at Melbourne’s Monash University.

Studying in Ballarat, 100km west of Melbourne, and undertaking teaching work placements in Victoria’s second-largest city, Geelong, has opened Ching to a broader experience and added to the personal growth and leadership development fostered by her educational journey in Victoria.

Armed with this perspective, Ching advocates for the quality of education and the benefits of studying in regional Victoria, which offers wonderful experiences that prospective students might not have imagined.

International Student of the Year – Vocational Education and Training (VET)


Nicolas Ojeda Amador (Colombia)

Advanced Diploma of Translating, Albright Institute of Business and Language

It’s rewarding to look back at the experiences I’ve had since I moved to Victoria, primarily to study English, and see that no matter where you come from, in Melbourne you can always contribute to your community.

The acceptance and respect for diversity that Nicolas has experienced in Melbourne has been welcomed and profound.

Even during his earliest days in Victoria, after arriving without any English, Nicolas found that acceptance could be a common language.

In the time since he has grown as a leader, student, volunteer and mentor.

Studying Project Management and Interpreting and Translation in the Australian context has empowered Nicolas to inspire positive change.

For instance, he is currently working work with a company that creates multicultural and multilingual communications and has proposed a project to build resources to support native speakers of Arabic, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese and Urdu who identify as LGBTIQA+.


Alexiane Beck (France)

Diploma of Accounting, SuniTAFE Mildura

Victoria offers many possible scholarships and awards to help international students progress through their studies with less stress and be proud of their achievements.

A recipient of a Destination Australia scholarship that supported her vocational studies at SuniTAFE Mildura, Alexiane chose to get involved with her community as she finds it a fantastic way to connect to local people.

An active leader at SuniTAFE’s small student residence, the animal lover also found like-minded connections through the RSPCA, volunteering at her church and supporting community events.

Based in Mildura in Victoria’s Sunraysia region, SuniTAFE, prides itself on its diverse, engaging and culturally rich community.

Alexiane is now studying for an Advanced Diploma of Accounting which she hopes will be her pathway to a future bachelor degree and a professional career.


Alejandro Rendón (Colombia)

Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management, Greystone College

Victoria will help you to develop value-based leadership skills that can prepare us to be humble about success and honest about failure.

One of the benefits of studying in Victoria is the access to inspiring extracurricular activities that build networks, hone skills and foster dreams.

This included participating in the innovative Study Melbourne Leadership Labs Program and the Study Melbourne Future Founders Program for Alejandro.

Alejandro has also participated in an Australian Research Council and Monash University initiative to explore household innovation in low-waste living and how communities can embrace more sustainable, environmentally friendly solutions.

Inspired to make a difference, Alejandro‘s studies provide the practical skills and experience in leadership and management to be effective in the real world.

He is now a Public Private Partnership consultant in an Australian firm at which he is helping to develop important infrastructure projects.

International Student of the Year – English Language Training

Maria Luisa Une Matoo (Mexico)

Discover English

English is a key language nowadays, and through learning it and continuing to study here in Melbourne, I have had incredible opportunities.

Improving her English language skills at Discover English in Melbourne has provided a pathway for Maria towards undertaking a Diploma of Business, which she is due to start later in 2022.

Starting the Cambridge Advanced English course at Discover English in March 2022, Maria has since taken the Cambridge C1 Advanced test and is continuing to improve her language skills at the college.

A volunteer in the Hispanic catholic community of Melbourne, Maria has discovered the city’s well-known multicultural environment, which she described as one of the most enriching she has seen anywhere.

As a Latin American citizen, she is fond of showing others the richness of Melbourne´s multicultural life, including Bachata and Salsa dancing classes.

Premier’s Award – International Student of the Year

The Premier’s Award – International Student of the Year will recognise the most outstanding candidate for this year.

Nominees for other awards will automatically be considered as candidates.

Provider Award Finalists

Excellence in International Student Experience


Holmesglen Institute

Our ability to refine product offerings and break new ground in industry partnerships has a positive effect on campus life, graduate outcomes and students’ connections with the Victorian community.

International students are welcomed and encouraged to develop a sense of identity and belonging as members of the Holmesglen and Victorian community.

The experience of international students at Holmesglen is continually improved by initiatives that increase access to non-academic support, improve employability skills, and increase social inclusion and cohesion. These initiatives include subsidising student activities and leveraging partnerships with industry and community organisations.

An example of its integrated learning approach includes piloting an innovative Intra/Interprofessional Learning Model in Nursing program, which received exceptionally strong student feedback.

Holmesglen encourages its international students to maintain a healthy study-life balance. Its purposefully resourced Recreation Team provides inclusive, fun and engaging programs involving numerous trips and tours around Australia and a diverse sports and clubs program.


Confidence Hackers

We make learning about you and what makes you tick fun, engaging and relevant … we’re always surprised just how much students want to share and support others.

Recognising that confidence and wellbeing challenges can be particularly significant for international students, Confidence Hackers focuses on building skills that allow students to create the outcomes they want to achieve.

Innovative programs help students unlock what makes them tick, feel empowered, learn life skills, build self-confidence and self-determinism skills, and better manage stress and anxiety.

Confidence Hackers uses a mix of research-backed and non-clinical human behaviour practise to create meaningful and lasting change for international students.

Its wealth of innovative initiatives includes `Confidence Crew’, the winner of the International Education Association of Australia’s Excellence in Innovation Award.


STEM Sisters

STEM Sisters fosters a diverse community within its volunteer, ambassador and LinkedIn community, which represents a wide range of cultures captured under the umbrella of “women of colour.

STEM Sisters empowers and supports female international students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Victoria is a welcoming, multicultural society, but the institute recognises that some women may face daily difficulties beyond language and academic challenges as they study in a foreign land.

STEM Sisters has developed a variety of initiatives that help overcome the barriers that women in STEM from diverse cultural backgrounds may face.

It launched the Ambassador Program to recognise the needs of these women and assist them in making educated decisions about their future in a new community.

Its `Dress to Impress’ initiative supports women's confidence in how they dress while contributing to environmental sustainability by enabling them to swap clothes and acquire high-quality, second-hand professional outfits.


The Gordon Institute of TAFE

Our approach is to always put the best interests of the student first … ensuring the best outcome for the student.

One of the benefits of working in a small, close team in a medium-sized institution is delivering personalised service to students.

The Gordon’s International Team fosters a strong sense of community from the first point of contact with students.

This continues throughout their studies by having close contact with program areas, being alerted to issues as they arise, and intervening early to avoid any 'snowball effect'.

The Gordan focuses on providing its international student community with practical support in a safe and supportive environment.

Based in the regional city of Geelong allows teachers to directly link students with local employers, giving them valuable experience in their industry while also connecting them to the local community.

Geelong is an affordable, student-friendly city close to the Great Ocean Road with easy public transport links to Melbourne.

Excellence in International Education – TAFE


The Gordon Institute of TAFE

Our approach is to always put the best interests of the student first, before working through processes, obligations and regulations, ensuring the best outcome for the student.

Based in Geelong, the Gordon Institute of TAFE embraces the sense of community and connection available to international students studying in Victoria’s premier regional city.

The Gordon’s pride in providing an outstanding and personalised international student experience is most evident in the initiatives it instigated during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep students supported, connected and safe.

Outside of the pandemic, the institute’s commitment to creating a supportive living and learning environment extends to connecting international students with local employers to give them opportunities to gain valuable work experience in their industry.

Geelong is an affordable, student-friendly city. It has easy public transport links to Melbourne and is close to the Great Ocean Road, giving students access to the city and the coast and allowing them to study in a calm and peaceful environment.


Holmesglen Institute

Student voice and partnership support informed decision making, driving quality enhancements for the organisation.

Working in partnership with students to deliver a student-centred learning experience is embedded in the organisational culture at Holmesglen Institute.

The experience of international students at Holmesglen is continually improved by initiatives that increase access to non-academic support, help with employability skills, and enhance social inclusion and cohesion for international students.

Based in suburban Chadstone in Melbourne's southeast, Holmesglen's performance and initiatives are driven by its student-focused approach and listening to the student voice, leading to a culture that encourages creativity, partnership, collaboration and innovation.

Holmesglen's commitment to innovative education and training is showcased in the School of Nursing, which has introduced a collaborative learning model producing industry-ready graduates.

Excellence in International Education – Private Education and Training


Institute of Health and Nursing Australia

The Institute of Health and Nursing Australia (IHNA) believes career-focused and innovative learning requires the direct support of industry partners and its practical approach to its workforce-focused training programs, including virtual reality, reflects the hands-on needs of the healthcare industry.

In early 2022, the Institute of Health and Nursing Australia (IHNA) started an international campus in Cochin, India, as part of a strategy to improve international students' experiences and open new pathways to study in Australia.

Part of its vision to become a leading provider of healthcare education globally, the move also aligned with its mission of `Education for Employment’, in which education and training improve students' employability and study outcomes.

As an international cohort, the individual situation for each student is different, and so the progression of each student through the curriculum at their own pace, to their own degree of depth, and with various levels of customisation that they choose, is a core focus.

Excellence in International Education – English Language Training


English Unlimited

Our award-winning Everyday English coursebooks consist of modern topics such as Australian culture, indigenous Australians, jobs of the future, mental health and wellbeing, disability and other topics relevant to our international students.

Introducing its award-winning Everyday English program has led to higher student academic performance and satisfaction rates at English Unlimited, one of Australia's largest providers of English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

English Unlimited is committed to elevating students' interest in learning English, using current and student-led content that has proven to spark their interest.

The innovative Everyday English teaching methodology specialises in contemporary Australian topics. It focuses on a communicative teaching methodology, encouraging students to draw on their real-life experiences to improve their language skills.

A commitment to excellence in the delivery of international education has inspired a raft of student-focused initiatives.

In addition to Everyday English, English Unlimited offers a full range of Cambridge and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) courses.


Impact English College

Our students come with dreams and we hold these carefully in our hands; everything we do works towards supporting our students’ achievement of their dreams.

An `English-only policy’ is a key feature and point of difference at Impact English College.

Regularly mentioned in student reviews, the policy creates a learning environment where English language skills develop more quickly while also fostering international friendships, cross-cultural understanding and engagement within the school community.

Course offerings are designed to provide a wide range of experiences, from General English to exam preparation.

Ongoing interviews between teachers and individual students, and high levels of face-to-face involvement by student advisors ensure that students are well supported with no student left behind.


Torrens University Australia

Home to over 2000 international students in Victoria from over 115 different countries, Torrens University boasts a credible, industry-immersive difference and a global perspective to Australian higher education.

As a Certified B Corporation, Torrens University believes that when students succeed, countries prosper and society benefits.

The university’s commitment to delivering immersive and authentic learning has led to the developing of a series of free, additional learning sessions for international students to improve their English language skills.

Students can choose from 13 clubs – based on their interests – in areas such as music, movies, meditation or current affairs.

These clubs not only assist international students in improving their English language skills but ensure they have fun and connect with the university, teachers and other domestic or international students.

Most English language students maintain connections with these clubs as they transition to studying for a globally recognised degree at Torrens University Australia.

Premier's Award – Victorian International Education Provider of the Year

The Premier’s Award – Victorian International Education Provider of the Year will recognise the most outstanding Provider for this year.

Nominees for other awards will automatically be considered as candidates.