International Student Support

International Student Experience
Presentation to Senate
Aspects of the International Student
Support for international students
Internationalisation of the BU community, affecting the students and
staff at BU.
The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) Report states:
“Being equitable does not mean providing the same for every student
but recognising the different needs within a diverse group and making
necessary steps to ensure that services are provided in a way that meets
these needs as far as possible.”
How International is BU?
We currently have over 130 different nationalities studying at BU.
There are over 30 students currently at BU who are the only student from their country
Current figures for enrolled international students: 1,357 (8.13%)
BU’s vision:
“We will grow non–UK student numbers by 15% by 2015. We expect this growth to come
primarily from full–time postgraduate taught numbers.”
“Ensure that the offering, outside of the normal academic activity, provides ample
opportunity and incentives for staff and students to experience a diverse range of cultures,
experiences and proactively supports diversity in all that BU does.”
BU’s current support
BU Student Handbook (International version) send as a hardcopy and available online.
Induction and Post-induction:
School specific support
Graduate School
Educational support
Other HEI’s
31 institutions provided information regarding their specific support of international students.
Average number of International Students across the seven HEIs who declared their numbers
is 1,607.
Average number of specifically dedicated IS advisor from 24 HEIs is 4.8
Individual HEI staff levels range from 11.5 to 1
Most commonly occurring number for staffing level is 4 staff (5 HEIs)
International Student Support (or equivalent) is located:
Within International Office – 13
Within Student Services - 13
Other HEI’s
Specific International Student support services offered across 24 HEIs:
Orientation/welcome – 23
Visa/immigration advice – 20
Trips/social events – 14
General support – 7
Staff/student development training – 6
Airport Pick-ups – 5
Welfare Support – 3
Sector is up by 7.2% applications by overseas students.
BU’s overseas applications is down by 7.4%
BU has an Increase in EU students by 14%
The International student experience:
Pre-arrival information is intended to help applicants to settle in
as quickly and easily as possible upon arrival in the UK and to
facilitate their transition to study.
It is fundamental for all students that pre-arrivals should include
setting realistic expectations, such as independent learning,
facilities that the University provides, and cultural expectations,
academic and pastoral.
The International student experience:
Cultural Stress
“A study of BU international students found that stress was at its height in
the initial stage of the academic journey; this was caused by the struggle to
cope with the challenges of foreign language use and an unfamiliar
academic and sociocultural environment at a time when students were
beset with homesickness and loneliness.
This is why some Universities host an international student induction the
week before the arrivals period to provide them with more specific help
and time to settle.”
Post Induction
Integration into UK society is key not only to International students’ academic ability,
but their language capabilities, friendships, confidence, understanding, and, most
importantly, creating an internationalised BU.
International students often have issues such as:
• Language barriers
• Creating friendships
• Facing racism
• Academic cultural differences
• Group work
• Identity
Helping international students with these is essential in order to integrate these students
into UK society.
Language Barriers
• We believe one of the key reasons why international students tend not to integrate
with UK students is down to their perceived inability or confidence to speak the English
• A study at BU found that although all students entered their course with a minimum
level of IELTS 6, the majority felt disadvantaged by particularly poor spoken English, and
suffered feelings of anxiety, shame and inferiority.
• This caused them to retreat into monoethnic communication with students from the
same country, further inhibiting progress in language.
Creating Friendships
• Findings from an ethnographic study on BU international students suggest
particular importance to students was the desire and failure to achieve contact
with host nationals.
• An absence of host contact was a source of deep disillusionment for students who
understood the positive impact of host friends on linguistic and cultural knowledge
• Research into the host perspective of international education is called for to inform
the internationalisation strategies adopted by BU.
• Out of a survey of 153 international postgraduate students at BU, 49 had
experienced some form of abuse.
• In most cases, this took the form of verbal abuse
• Though racism manifested physically for nine students.
• There was a consequent reluctance to return to the UK as a tourist, or to offer
positive word-of-mouth recommendations to future students.
• Implications for student satisfaction and future international student
Academic Cultural Differences
At BU, 43% of plagiarism offences are committed by Post Graduate International students.
The QAA have outlined that “During academic induction and beyond, institutions should
ensure that international students recognise and understand what constitutes academic
integrity and what the institution's regulations are relating to academic malpractice”
It is clear that international students require more support and guidance on how academic
offences occur, and the difference in education from the UK to universities in other
Stress related to the academic task is caused by academic cultural differences, particularly
in regard to critical evaluation and participation in discussion in class, and by language
Group Work
• In SUBU, through our student rep system, we have found particular
issues raised around group work with international students in most
courses, particularly business post graduate courses.
• These issues stem not only from language barriers, but also academic
expectations and responsibilities between UK and international
• These expectations must be managed throughout the international
student experience and difficulties in language barriers should be
We have found at BU that international students identify themselves as international
students, and attend events which are particularly put on for them more willingly.
ISOP – International Student Orientation Programme
• We cannot just tell people that they are integrated; we must provide
personalised appropriate targeted support on their journey to them feeling
• Specific international support is not separation, it is actually facilitation of
Pastoral Care
• Some universities offer international focused pastoral care with the students’
union; others have taken it on board themselves.
• Some pastoral care involves;
• Holding events to celebrate religious holidays
• Cultural events to celebrate the traditions and values of others
• Socials where international students can meet with students of similar and
different origins.
• Such care would allow for continuous work with international students
throughout the year, and projects celebrating cultural holidays and events
would make the University seem more internationalised.
• One of the key ways we increase our international student numbers is through
graduated international students advertising the University to peers in their
country of origin.
• We believe that is it essential to continue communication with these students
after they have graduated.
• International students clearly have a different student experience
• We believe the University should create a signposted area for students
Students will be able to use this area for not only…
Help with VISAs
Academic support
But also support with…
Language barriers
Most importantly creating an internationalised BU.
• To adopt recommendation from ECU to look at internationalisation with
equality and diversity strategies.
• To look at the work done from the ‘What Works?’ programme and use the 3
spheres model focussed around the academic, social and professional services
• To create an international student support centre in a signposted area of the
The introduction of an international centre will:
Allow us to move towards BU’s vision of:
Creating a personalised experience.
Encourage and support the creation of an internationally diverse staff and student
Provide ample opportunity and incentives for staff and students to experience a
diverse range of cultures, experiences and proactively supports diversity in all that
BU does.
A central visible structure will not only give international students a sense of
identity and noticeable support, but will also be appealing to potential international
students looking to study in the UK, therefore, building a much stronger
recruitment business model.