According to UKCISA, there were over 435,000 international students studying in the UK between 2013-2014, highlighting just how important international students are on the UK economy. In a previous post we covered how your university could, and should, be supporting international students in order to improve their student experience; in doing so effectively turning your international graduates into brand ambassadors for your institution whose recommendations and future help with international student recruitment would prove invaluable.
There are numerous ways to ensure that the international students matriculating at your university are getting the best student experience they can, and here are four UK universities currently going the extra mile to make sure they do:
1 – University of East London
The University of East London (UEL) runs an international student welcome programme with a difference. The first stage includes pre-departure advice from a university representative, answering questions with international students face-to-face in their home countries. Questions about what they need to bring and what they will need to prepare before they leave home provides a great deal of comfort for those students soon to be leaving home and travelling thousands of miles to study in a foreign language and country.
As soon as international students arrive in the UK, the University of East London is on-hand to welcome them, offering an airport pickup service to collect them from either Heathrow or Gatwick. They even provide them with some essential home comforts such as duvet sets and phone cards so they can call home to let them know they’ve arrived safely. The welcome programme also features talks and presentations about how to navigate the campus and London itself, with support offered on everything from buying an Oyster card to setting up a bank account. The international students welcome programme then integrates with the home students welcome programme, ensuring that there are plenty of opportunities for both sets of students to meet and socialise and get to know each other before lectures start.
2 – Falmouth University
In comparison, Falmouth University in Cornwall has a smaller total number of students, making its international students a larger proportion of its total student population. This affords them the opportunity to pay closer attention to their international students. In addition to offering a ‘Meet and Greet’ service at Heathrow Airport, Falmouth University runs introductory sessions on banks, finance, visas, passports, equality, health and student services. They are also able to offer classes in academic writing, academic culture and presenting in English to support those international students not fluent in English. These classes are supplemented by one-to-one appointments that provide support for any other English language issues. As discussed in our previous post, lack of confidence and varied experience using English is one of the main barriers to international students securing work after graduation, and the added steps taken by Falmouth University will help to lower these barriers to their overseas students.
3 – Sheffield Hallam University
In addition to pre-departure support, welcome programmes and immigration advice provided on their website, Sheffield Hallam University have a range of digital resources for international students to tap. Sheffield Hallam has produced a range of podcasts that teach research and essay writing skills and even a guide to arriving at Manchester Airport. Sheffield Hallam university also runs a cross-cultural mentoring scheme called Culture Connect, which connects international students with local students in order to help them settle in and gain cultural knowledge.
Sheffield Hallam University also organises a long list of social events and encourages home students to organise events with international students in mind, especially those studying events management, public relations or English language.
These universities are working hard to build a stellar international reputation, one that overseas students will trust when making the decision to invest in a UK university education.
To learn more about international student recruitment support read our previous post on ‘Supporting International Students After Graduation.’ And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.