How can we strengthen social and community connections for international students studying and living in Victoria?

Study Melbourne

Applications close:
Funding (up to):

Study Melbourne is seeking new ways to help our international student community feel welcome, connected and confident while they study, work and live in Victoria.

The economic and social contribution of international students is a success story for our state.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a huge impact on international students. Many international students have little or no support from family or friends and have reported feeling anxious and isolated.

This has highlighted the need to help international students build strong social connections and support networks during their time in Victoria.

It has also highlighted the need to raise community awareness about the importance of international students to our state and making them feel welcome.

Study Melbourne is seeking innovative solutions to address these issues and create more opportunities for international students to make meaningful connections in Victoria.

Contact us if you have any questions, check out our FAQs page or join us for Office hours.

What’s the problem?

International education is Victoria’s largest services export and has experienced strong growth over the last five years. In 2019 it contributed $12.6 billion to Victoria’s economy and supported around 79,000 jobs.

Word of mouth is everything in international education. While Melbourne is ranked as Australia’s best student city, and the third-best in the world – international students in Victoria have reported relatively low rates of satisfaction with social connectedness. This is a major factor as to whether they would recommend Victoria as a study destination.

Students with lower levels of social connectedness are known to experience higher rates of mental health issues and are less likely to seek help than Australian students.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and on international education providers in Victoria. Responding well to the needs of international students is critical to protecting Victoria’s reputation as a safe, welcoming and quality study destination and ensuring this sector recovers quickly.

The Victorian Government is responding, including through a $45 million international student emergency relief fund, but more needs to be done to help international students develop meaningful connections and feel valued as part of the Victorian community.

What are we looking for in a solution?

International students make up 1 in 7 of Victoria’s youth and 1 in 5 of the residents in Melbourne’s CBD.

We have an opportunity to help shape the lives of thousands of young students from all over the world. Their experiences and ability to connect with others while they are here has a profound impact on their learning and wellbeing.

The three main impacts we are looking for in a solution are that:

We are hoping to see solutions that will lead to a substantial increase in the number of international students that are:

Who are the customers and end-users?

What assets are available to help?

The peak body EduGrowth will be invited to provide technical advice throughout the program, particularly during the accelerator phase. This will ensure successful development and implementation of a viable product and maximise benefit and impact in working with the Victorian sector.

You’re also welcome to base yourselves out of our home at the Victorian Innovation Hub in Docklands and the Study Melbourne Student Centre in Hardware Lane provides direct access to students for customer interviews and user testing.

What is the opportunity for the successful startup?

This challenge would have up to $185,000 in funding which includes:

$5,000 for the Pre-accelerator Stage to fine tune your proposal
$30,000 for the Accelerator Stage to develop an MVP
$150,000 for the contract during the Development Stage to fully develop and deliver the solution

How does CivVic Labs work?

At CivVic Labs, we go out to government departments and agencies and look for big problems that would benefit from new technology.

These challenges are broadcast to the Victorian startup ecosystem and the best solutions progress to an accelerator experience where you develop a Minimum Viable Product in collaboration with a government customer.

At the end of the program, you're in the running to secure up to $185k to fully develop the solution and we support you along the way with co-working space, coaching, workshops and mentoring.

For more on how this works, head here.


Contact us at or check out our FAQs page.

And if you missed our Information session on 23rd June 2020, you can watch it here.

To view the presentation for this challenge, go to time; 32:36.

Further resources

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