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College celebrates international award


With an international program spanning more than 50 years, Mercedes College is well versed in educating students from overseas. Now it has received worldwide recognition by becoming the first Australian school to receive the Study Travel Secondary Schools Award.

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An initiative of the UK-based Study Travel magazine which has more than 22,000 subscribers from the education industry in 129 countries, the award’s judging criteria was based on student welfare, academic results, marketing and liaison and overall professionalism and reliability of the school.

Education agents, who assist families wishing to send their child to an international school, nominated and voted for the award winners.

International Marketing coordinator Leeanne Moriarty, who has been working with Mercedes’ program for the past 17 years, said winning the Australian and New Zealand category for 2020/21 was a “wonderful” achievement for the Springfield college.

“I think the award recognises our emphasis on care of the student and the proof of that is the longevity of our program. It’s an integral part of the school, and the number of staff we have to support the students is more than most schools,” she said.

“My job is to make sure that those education agents pick the Mercedes brochure first and are able to talk about us with accuracy and passion.

“The award is quite exciting for us because it acknowledges the level of service provided by our team.”

Ms Moriarty said similar to other colleges and universities, the pandemic had been “challenging” for Mercedes’ international program.

“We supported those who wanted to go home last year – some German students went back straight away and some from China hadn’t made it here yet because they were starting late due to Chinese New Year,” she explained.

“Currently we have 23 students from eight countries and normally we would have about 80 students here, which is impacting the revenue of the school in a way very similar to what happened in the GFC in 2008/09,” she said.

“However, the bonus is that I have 43 students that would come tomorrow if they were allowed to.”

Ms Moriarty said Mercedes along with other colleges and universities in the State were constantly lobbying the government for the return of international students when it is safe to do so.

For the international students who have remained studying at the college during the pandemic, extra supports have been put in place to ensure their wellbeing in the extended separation from their families. Over the school holidays additional activities have been planned and there is constant communication with the student’s Homestay family, who is also connected with the Mercedes community.

With international borders still closed for the time being, Ms Moriarty remains in regular contact with families and 109 education agents scattered around the globe via email and Zoom meetings at various times of the day. She is hopeful that 2022 will see a welcome return to a more “normal” year for the international program, which is so important to the Mercedes culture.

“The program has been running at Mercedes for the past 53 years and we’ve welcomed more than 870 students in that time,” she said.

“It is part of our identity and it’s a way our students can access the world.

“Part of our Mercy Keys are about compassion and social justice and having the international students provides a link to some of those and makes them more real for the average student. They are part of the student cohort and our local students get to appreciate their language, food and culture.”


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