Newcastle uni students vulnerable

FEMALE international students feel the most vulnerable in and around the University of Newcastle but rural students, first-year students and smaller sized men also feel at risk, a study shows.

The 2008 study by the University of Newcastle International office obtained by The Herald found international students, particularly females, felt they were at greater personal risk than rural or local students and connected it with "looking different" and racism.

It came as women on campus prepared to take part in a Reclaim the Night march last night.

Newcastle University Students Association women's co-convenor Sarah Lutherborrow said the march was part of an international campaign where women take to the streets to promote their right to live without fear.

"We're challenging that fear by joining together to reclaim spaces where women regularly feel unsafe," Ms Lutherborrow said.

The international office study was based on focus groups with 15 international and rural students at the university.

It was used as a foundation for a number of safety programs introduced this year.

There have been a number of attacks on international students around the university in 2009, some believed to be racially motivated.

The study found international students chose Australia because of safety and security but after arriving discovered otherwise.

It also found rural students viewed themselves at greater risk than local students, but less at risk than overseas students.

Rural students also said international students were not necessarily targeted because of racism, but because they were perceived as vulnerable.