Amanda Barry of ANU: Championing diversity in student recruitment

While the Australian National University already has a significant cohort of international students, alongside Australian students, there is a continuous effort to ensure this diversity reflects the nation, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world at large.

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Amanda Barry, Director of Future Students at the Australian National University (ANU), advocates for diversification in both international and domestic student recruitment strategies, stressing the university’s commitment to diversifying its student body, staff, and community.

Her approach targets both international and domestic students, aiming to enrich the university’s cultural and educational landscape. This initiative reflects ANU’s commitment to fostering a varied and inclusive academic community. This diversity, according to Barry, is key to providing the best possible classroom experience and creating a microcosm of the world on campus.

“Diversity, perhaps means slightly different things when we look at those two cohorts. The driving objective when it comes to diversity is about giving our students the best possible classroom experience we can, so that a lot of the time you come to a campus to experience a melting pot or to experience a microcosm of the world,” the future students director said.

ANU, renowned for its academic excellence, has been proactive in its approach to diversity. The university defines diversity in multifaceted ways, focusing on geographical representation, socio-economic backgrounds, and a wide range of academic disciplines. Barry noted that while ANU already has a significant cohort of international students, alongside Australian students, there is a continuous effort to ensure this diversity reflects the nation, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world at large.

“We’ve defined diversity in a number of ways. So we, of course, have a large cohort of international students as well, of course, as our Australian students,” Barry said.

Barry in an Interview with MSM Reporter said in terms of socio-economic diversity, ANU is striving to attract students from various backgrounds, including different types of schools and socio-economic groups within Australia. The multicultural nature of Australia plays a significant role in this endeavor, as the university seeks to mirror the country’s diversity.

“We also look at diversity in our socio-economic sense, as well. So what can we be doing to attract a diversity of students from a diversity of backgrounds, right, so from different types of schools from different types of what we call socio-economic groups in Australia. First, and families, students, diverse students within Australia, Australia is also a very multicultural country,” she said.

Academically, ANU is also diversifying the disciplines chosen by international students. While business, IT, and engineering remain popular choices, there is a push to encourage enrollment in arts, social sciences, broader STEM subjects, and law. This strategy aims to offer international students a comprehensive view of the diverse academic opportunities at ANU.

According to her, “We diversify what students study when they come to us. We do find that for our international students, programmes like business, IT and engineering are really popular. We teach all of those. We’re also trying to find ways where we can get students studying some of the incredible arts and social sciences that we offer, and a new or all the broader STEM subjects that we offer here, or law.”

To achieve these objectives, ANU has implemented several tactics. In the international arena, the university has been deliberate in identifying countries where students can successfully integrate into the ANU environment, maintaining a certain academic threshold. This has led to the establishment of offices in key countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China, supporting recruitment efforts and capitalizing on the existing popularity of Australian education in these regions.

She said, “We get a lot of students, for example, from mainland China and North Asia, but we’re looking now very closely at Southeast Asia, South Asia. We’ve embedded new representatives in those markets. So we have offices in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and mainland China to support our recruitment efforts in those places where traditionally Australia has been a popular choice for students from those countries.”

ANU also employs a strategic approach to working with education agents, forming partnerships that align with their diversity goals. These agents are crucial in reaching out to potential students globally. Additionally, integrated marketing campaigns, social media initiatives, and native language promotions are part of ANU’s comprehensive strategy to attract diverse international students.

For domestic student recruitment, the focus is on school engagement, particularly in the undergraduate sector. ANU works with high-potential schools and networks, leveraging relationships with career advisors and school staff to establish pipelines for diverse student recruitment. The aim is to instill a sense of belonging and the possibility of attending ANU among diverse student groups.

Overall, Barry’s insights into ANU’s strategies reflect a deep commitment to diversity, recognizing its importance not just in enriching the classroom experience but also in preparing students for a globalized world. By embracing a multifaceted approach to diversity, ANU is setting a standard for higher education institutions aiming to create inclusive and dynamic learning environments.

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