ACU students’ research recognised at undergraduate awards event

Australian Catholic University Honours student Olivia Williams has won a prestigious award for a paper produced during her recent Parliamentary Internship.

Olivia said being acknowledged for her work by the Australasian Council for Undergraduate Research (ACUR) was an unexpected and exciting achievement.

“To even have the opportunity to make it there to present my work was amazing, and for them to give me an award – I just did not see it coming,” she said.

Olivia won the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia prize for Best Paper in Education Research for her paper: International Students, Neglected in a Time of Crisis: Gaps in Assistance for Overseas Students in Pandemic Time.

The fourth-year Arts/Law Honours student, who wants to be a solicitor as well as continue to conduct research into political issues, said meeting international students and researching the topic was eye-opening.

“I talked to a lot of international students, and they appreciated it. They were saying, ‘That’s the first time I’ve been heard for a long time’. They have just been so neglected,” she said.

“I didn’t realise how bad it was until I was able to do the research. It honestly shocked me.”

Olivia said she hoped her research would lead to better supports for international students including addressing issues that existed prior to the pandemic including restrictive work conditions.

Fellow ACU Arts Honours student Yogashree Thirunavukarasu also presented her paper, How Systemic Racism Within the Australian Theatre Industry Diminishes Artists of Colour Through Covert Biases, at the ACUR event which attracted strong interest and praise.

Yogashree said it was exhilarating to present her work, on which she has also based her recently staged play, Unestablished.

“I was surprised at how many people were interested. There were a lot of questions and engagement,” she said.

"It's important people have more meaningful conversations around race."

ACU Faculty of Education and Arts Executive Dean Professor Mary Ryan congratulated Olivia and Yogashree on their success.

“To see undergraduate students produce papers of this calibre that are being recognised externally is exciting and a testament to the importance and success of research at ACU,” Professor Ryan said.

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