International Student Experience Presentation to Senate Aspects of the International Student Experience • 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 Pre-arrivals BU Student Handbook (International version) send as a hardcopy and available online. Induction and Post-induction: AskBU School specific support Chaplaincy Graduate School Educational support Accommodation SUBU 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-arrivals 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: Induction 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 language. • 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. Racism • 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 recruitment. 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 countries. • 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 ability. 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 students. • These expectations must be managed throughout the international student experience and difficulties in language barriers should be supported. Identity • 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 integrated. • Specific international support is not separation, it is actually facilitation of integration. 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. Alumni • 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. Conclusion • 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 Immigration Academic support • • • • • But also support with… Language barriers Identity Friendships Most importantly creating an internationalised BU. Recommendations • 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 sphere. • To create an international student support centre in a signposted area of the University. Recommendations 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 body. 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.