WARRNAMBOOL'S Deakin University campus has increased enrolments of international students by nearly 40 per cent in the past five years.
Commerce student Helene Fu, from Xuzhou, China, is among a cohort of 34 this year after the campus offered her a full scholarship to study in Warrnambool.
The 22-year-old said she took the offer because the city was safe, challenged her to speak English, had a favourable climate, and increased her opportunities to immigrate.
"For me I hope I can work slower and have time to enjoy life, enjoy the fresh air and climate and I can go to the beach," she said.
The university has also offered her an accounting internship at Warrnambool City Council, and Ms Fu said she planned to work in the south-west after graduating before she pursued further study.
But moving from overseas to study in a regional area hasn't been without challenges, which Ms Fu and the university have worked to address.
"At the beginning I felt lonely, really lonely. From this experience I started to think how to live by myself. I began to study guitar with Australian friends," she said.
One of Ms Fu's professors introduced her to guitar and she said she was grateful the university offered an officer to support international students. Ms Fu also attends the Crossroads Warrnambool Fellowship where she has met members from the local Chinese community.
Former senior lecturer Pat Varley can remember when the Warrnambool Institute of Advanced Education averaged about 10 international students a year from the 1970s to early 1990s.
"They brought a great lot back then. We were very much a mono-cultural society and in many ways we still are today and the fact they were part of the student community was great," Ms Varley said.
"Some of those students remained in Warrnambool and have been very successful and very worthwhile citizens."
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