Honeywood said Melbourne had more capacity than other capital cities to provide student accommodation because it had experienced a building boom during the COVID years.

“The PBSA [purpose-built student accommodation] sector has indicated they are nowhere near full in Melbourne. We are the only city that’s not verging on full,” he said.

Daniel Harsanto is an international student at RMIT and enjoys living in Melbourne.

Daniel Harsanto is an international student at RMIT and enjoys living in Melbourne.Credit:Justin McManus

Daniel Harsanto started his RMIT communications degree in Indonesia in mid-2021. Six months later, on New Year’s Eve, he arrived in Melbourne.

He initially found it difficult to meet Australians, but said his overall experience as an international student had been positive.

“I think it’s kind of hard to make relations, especially with the local students,” he said. “But I feel like, as time as goes by, there’s been welcoming to all of us. It’s really, really magical here.”

Online learning was the only way for university students to study during lockdowns and border closures, and will continue to have a strong presence in the years ahead. Universities will combine face-to-face lessons with online lessons for students unable or unwilling to get to campus, such as those living afar, or those with work and family commitments. At Deakin University, about one third of students study online only.

Honeywood said, while the return to face-to-face learning had been patchy, an active campus lifestyle was still essential as universities tried to attract students to their courses.

“Post COVID, there’s an incredible appetite for on-campus learning and social engagement, and we need all education providers to acknowledge that and meet student expectations,” he said. ”The return of Chinese students, who are required to undertake face-to-face learning, hopefully will encourage on-campus activities.”

Universities in Victoria will host their O Week celebrations next week, featuring everything from Welcome to Country ceremonies, free food, live music and club activities.

Monash University expects more than 110,000 people to attend its “bigger and better” orientation program, which, for the first time, will include a Pride March. Victoria University will host a family welcome day, while Australian Catholic University (ACU) will hold welcome fairs in Melbourne and Ballarat. At the University of Melbourne, there will be commencement ceremonies for undergraduates.

La Trobe University’s O Week events include a moonlight cinema, a pool party, a 48-hour filmmaking challenge and trivia events.

Sienna Seychell, 18, will attend O Week at La Trobe with her friends, and is excited about her first year of university after the latter years of her secondary school education were disrupted by the pandemic.

“I’m excited to mingle with new people, see people from different schools and different socio-economic areas,” she said.


The emergence of artificial technology chatbot ChatGPT, which has been banned in Victorian schools, poses a new challenge to universities as they guard against cheating while being open to new technology. As yet, none of the state’s universities have banned ChatGPT.

“We don’t want to create unintended consequences by banning its use altogether; this could stand in the way of incorporating it into our teaching,” said ACU Provost Professor Meg Stuart.

RMIT said, the “best approach to discouraging students from turning to these cheating mechanisms is through quality learning and wellbeing supports and services.”

La Trobe said it would incorporate AI tools into learning and assessment to ensure graduates were well-equipped for their future careers.

With Nicole Precel

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