International Student Award finalists announced

Media release | 7 September 2018

Outstanding NSW international students and organisations have been recognised with the announcement of finalists for the 2018 NSW International Student Awards.

Department of Industry Director Peter Mackey said the annual awards, managed by Study NSW, celebrate international students’ contributions to NSW society and reinforce the benefits of international education to the broader NSW community.

“From Homebush Boys High’s Duy Quang Mai, who has actively volunteered for numerous school support programs and his local Salvos Store, to Macquarie University’s Ms. Vidushi Bhagwanani, who encourages women in STEM to play a more active role in the community, these finalists embody the positive impact international students have on our cultural capital, our global networks, and our communities,” Mr Mackey said.

Awards panellist and International Education Association (ISANA) past president Mary Ann Seow said the high calibre of finalists demonstrated the massive contribution of international education to the broader NSW community.

“International education is NSW’s biggest services export industry attracting over 300,000 enrolments last year.

“But the bigger picture contribution of international education to Australia is the chance for cultures to learn from each other for the overall betterment of society.

“These students have not only taken the opportunity of moving to NSW to gain a first class education, they have stepped outside their comfort zones to expand their experience beyond the classroom and enrich the lives of others.”

The nine finalists come from diverse backgrounds and countries including Vietnam, Iceland, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Hungary, Iran, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and India.

The International Student of the Year Award categories are for outstanding community contributions in Higher Education; Vocational Education and Training (VET); and Schools.

The International Student Community Engagement Award recognises initiatives of organisations that help international students connect with NSW communities and covers the categories of education provider and business or community group.

Winners will be announced at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on 25 September.

A list of finalists is below and their profiles can be viewed at

2018 International Student Awards finalists

International Student of the Year – Schools

  • Mr Duy Quang Mai, Homebush Boys High School from Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Miss Helga Oladottir,  Willyama High School, Broken Hill from Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Ms Nabiha Rafi, Chester Hill High School from Karachi, Pakistan

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

  • Miss Kennedy Jackson, TAFE NSW – Ultimo from London, United Kingdom
  • MrDavid Harmati, TAFE NSW – Western Sydney from Budapest, Hungary
  • Ms Marie Sorenza Rebecca Olivette, TAFE NSW - Glendale from Port Louis, Mauritius

International Student of the Year – Higher Education

  • Mrs Forough Ataollahi, Charles Sturt University  from Shahrebabak, Iran
  • Ms  Vidushi Bhagwanani, Macquarie University from Delhi, India
  • Mrs  Nirosha Kumudini Ranawaka, University of New England from Kiribathgoda Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

International Student Community Engagement –  Business/ Community Group

  • Global Scope, Intersective
  • Beach Safety Advisor, Surf Lifesaving NSW
  • City of Parramatta – International students Welcome Event, City of Parramatta Council

International Student Community Engagement –  Education Provider

  • The Student Experience Passport, University of Newcastle
  • Global Leadership Program, Macquarie University
  • Ready for Western, Western Sydney University