Published 14 March 2001

More than 300 tertiary students from Japan will undertake courses ranging from one to 12 weeks at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus this year, further stimulating cultural links and providing an injection of more than $1.0 million into the local economy.

The visiting students come from four institutions with which SCU has developed close partnerships -

* Kansai Gaidai University near Osaka, a leading institution which also hosts visiting students from SCU's own Japanese studies program;

* Aichi Gakusen University, Toyota City, south of Nagoya, which specialises in educating Japanese government workers of the future

* Japan Academy of Moving Images (JAMI), a leading film-making institution whose graduates will soon begin entering SCU to do the full BA degree, staying here for two or more years. 50 students will come in August/Sept to study English.

* Nova Academy, one of the largest language schools in Japan, where students range in age from 16-65 and come from a variety of fields

According to Cassandra Grant, the Director of Studies/English language programs at SCU's International Office, the visiting students will enrol in general or specialised English courses for one, two, five or 12 weeks' duration. They also undertake a range of local recreational programs, including kayaking and Learn to Surf classes in Byron Bay. Many of them also do volunteer work with local organisations such as Caroona Nursing Home and St. Vincents Hospital.

"Many of our Japanese visitors visit local primary schools where they demonstrate and teach students some of the traditional Japanese arts, such as Origami," Ms Grant said.

"Importantly for both the visitors and the North Coast community, they are all accommodated on a homestay basis with local families in Lismore, Ballina and Byron Shire," she added.

"This enables them to practise their language skills as well becoming involved with Australian family life, including showing their hosts how to cook excellent Japanese food. The Japanese students often report that their time in Australia was a life-changing experience and many of them maintain long-term contact with host families, their teachers at the University and their new friends."

Good media opportunity: Students from Japan's Nova Academy will be at St. Mary's Primary School, Centre Street, Casino from 9.30am on Friday, 16 March to teach Origami to children. Cassandra Grant and Robin Osborne will be in attendance.