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Every year, thousands of prospective students dream of pursuing their tertiary studies abroad. However, the initial enthusiasm one feels having touched down in their new destination can eventually give way to concern and doubt. Students may quickly find themselves troubled with financial concerns, culture shock and language differences, social isolation, or homesickness.

Education providers understandably want their students to enjoy their international experience and make the most of their opportunities, especially as more institutions incorporate peer-to-peer engagement and alumni stories in their marketing and recruitment strategies.

However, the unfortunate reality is that international students are continuing to experience unexpected challenges which detracts them from pursuing their education abroad. So, how can institutions and organisations help this cohort to happily pursue their studies? What support programs are available to international students to ease their concerns while enhancing their living, studying, and working experiences in their new destination country? In this article, we discuss how IDP is helping students thrive in new environments and setting them up for success on their international journeys.


Following a series of intensive focus groups and surveys, IDP launched IDP Thrive in November 2021 - a program designed to foster a sense of community and build connections between international students studying in Australia. The program was structured in response to the alarming fact that few students arriving in Australia were aware of support services available to them.

Previous studies support this concerning trend. The Emerging Futures II survey from August 2022, which surveyed over 11,000 applicants, prospective students and current students, found 75% considered access to mental health support to be either ‘Important’ or ‘Very important’. Furthermore, over three quarters (77%) of current students said they had experienced feelings of depression, sadness and anxiety that had lasted for more than a week.

Having recognised this precarious situation, IDP worked diligently to build and provide a secure framework for student support. IDP Area Director for Australasia, Jane Li, said IDP Thrive was launched so that international students arriving in Australia knew there was support waiting for them on the other side of the jetway.

“The program focuses on engaging and supporting every IDP student, helping them settle into their new country, build social connections, and realise their full potential. Through IDP Thrive, our goal is to ensure that every student who studies abroad with IDP feels engaged and supported at each stage of their journey, including after they arrive at their destination,” said Ms Li.

While not being a quick-fix solution, IDP Thrive is a diverse, forward-thinking, and multi-layered program, and offers several avenues of support and community engagement. Additionally, the Thrive initiative helps to supplement and build upon existing support services offered by education providers.

What is the IDP Thrive program?

IDP Thrive begins as soon as an international student arrives in Australia. They are contacted by a member of our IDP team (with the option of speaking in their native language) and welcomed to their new study destination. Thereafter, IDP Thrive plays a continuous role throughout the student’s journey.

Students receive an official IDP Thrive destination booklet including useful information on how to navigate public transport, grocery shopping, pharmacies, and other important topics such as migration pathways and employment opportunities. While education is undeniably the priority, IDP Thrive, and its encompassed benefits provide relevant and timely information for what can otherwise be a daunting journey. These benefits fall under three categories: Community, Events, and Rewards.

Thrive Community

Thrive Community is an online portal focusing on building connections between international students in Australia. Sadly, occasional feelings of loneliness and social isolation are commonplace among this cohort and IDP Thrive aims to upend this trend. Through the Thrive Community, international students can meet new people and build meaningful friendships, receive invitations to social and adventure events, access employment opportunities, share photos and experiences, as well as share advice and recommendations among their peers.

Thrive Events

Thrive Events offers a more in-person experience and is tailored to a student’s social and adventurous proclivities. These events are typically designed to give students a taste of Australia and all of its attractions and natural wonders. Events catering to a student’s career goals are also available, which includes career workshops, networking events, and visa and migration information sessions.

Thrive Rewards

Thrive Rewards recognises a students’ commitment to IDP and the Thrive program by providing a welcome pack with exclusive discounts and offers, including discounted shopping and restaurant vouchers, as well as regularly updated student offers.

Although fostering positive student experiences isn’t quite as simple as offering vouchers and networking events, IDP Thrive is a bridge connecting students from the unknown to the familiar. By guiding students to participate in these experiences and encouraging them to make the most out of their respective journeys, IDP Thrive promotes a sense of connection and belonging in their new destinations. In turn, these positive outlooks and experiences can contribute to combatting poor mental health and encourage greater educational success for the student, as well as optimal results for institutions.

Student Experiences

IDP student Ankita Bhatnagar was understandably nervous when she left India and arrived in Adelaide to begin her study abroad journey. Not only was she in a foreign country with a different culture and customs, but she had to start the long and uncertain journey of balancing her education with subsistence, all while trying to make the most of this new experience. However, Ankita said she made sure to join the IDP Thrive community prior to her departure. She didn’t have to look further for the support and connection she wanted, particularly when it came to pursuing career opportunities in Australia.

“I immediately joined IDP Thrive in need of support. I followed the updates, such as the numerous job openings for students, relevant news pertaining to COVID and student work hours restrictions. I took part in a career session where I learned how important it was to modify resumes to suit Australian standards and how to excel in interviews. My confidence was tremendously improved, and I was successful in several interviews,” Ankita explained.

Like Ankita, Hasini Dedduwa Pathirana from Sri Lanka found IDP Thrive to be very beneficial in helping her to feel supported while studying in Australia. Hasini said she first learned about the program through emails she received from her local IDP counsellor and has since been impressed by the resources and opportunities it has provided.

“The organised events were interesting and informative, and the community feel helped me to build confidence while living away from my comfort zone,” said Hasini.

Hasini also said IDP Thrive helped strengthen her future career aspirations while she pursues an MBA in Business Analytics at Flinders University.

“It improved my knowledge and understanding of the Australian job market and helped me better position myself for future opportunities. Additionally, it helped me in my mentoring skills.”

Fellow IDP Thrive program member, Vimal Odedra, had similarly high praises. Vimal, who is also currently pursuing an MBA at Flinders University, said he initially became familiar with the program through his university’s resources and student networks and states that IDP Thrive has made a “positive impact” on his Australian educational experience.

“I joined the program to connect with a supportive community of students and to take advantage of the events and workshops that would enhance my educational experience,” Vimal explained.

“The program has positively influenced my experience in Australia by providing valuable networking opportunities, educational workshops, and a strong sense of community among international students.”


While the experiences of Ankita, Hasini, and Vimal showcase the many benefits of programs which help students settle into their study destination, it’s important to remember that any student assistance program will still have limitations and isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise. IDP Associate Director – Sales and Operations, Peggy Medeiros, re-iterated this, and said it could be difficult finding solutions for such a vast and diverse student body, as well as successfully promoting the program’s benefits to IDP’s massive global network.

"‘As our network continues to expand, our focus is to engage with all our offshore teams and showcase the Thrive program and benefits to our students,” said Ms Medeiros.

"As students’ needs and requirements shift, we need to ensure we are continuing to provide relevant value and support to them, and that IDP Thrive continues to develop and evolve.”

Despite potential limitations, Ms Medeiros said she would “absolutely encourage” all new arrivals in Australia to join IDP Thrive, and that steps are continuously being taken to ensure the program remains fresh, engaging and forward-thinking. Regular IDP Customer Experience (CX) forums have been valuable to this end, with Ms Medeiros saying Thrive team members have been able to use this data to tweak any upcoming events or sessions.

Beyond these improvements, Ms Medeiros also said IDP Thrive has further room to grow and build upon its current reputation.

“There is so much more we can do to help our students as part of the Thrive program. Creating a job board showing job opportunities across Australia, career counsellors to help students with their work choices and job readiness, interview preparation, resume writing, and networking,” she explained.

“We could also extend this program to other destination countries such as Canada and New Zealand to help support our students there as well.”


Despite challenges in global reach, the benefits of IDP Thrive far outweigh its limitations. It positively impacts a student’s mental health and allows them to feel at ease in a new environment, replacing stress and uncertainty with enthusiasm and motivation. Implementing or promoting such programs stand to benefit the education providers, just as much as the students themselves.

Providing international students with information, resources and access to events is more than just advancing their academic and professional development, it contributes to our unified effort in helping Australia be a welcoming and supportive home for international students for years to come.

For more information on IDP Thrive, visit our website today.

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer11 December 2023