Study Group student and teacher perspectives on studying in the UK this autumn
Study Group student and teacher perspectives on studying in the UK this autumn
With a global reputation for higher education excellence and an inclusive, multicultural society, the UK remains a popular choice for international students.
Having demonstrated the ability to move effectively to online and blended learning during the pandemic, the UK higher education sector has shown exceptional flexibility and resilience over the past academic year. The sector continues to deliver the world-class education it is known for internationally.
UK universities are now preparing to welcome thousands of international students in September 2021. In the build up to the start of term, academic staff and students from leading international education provider Study Group, share their perspectives on studying in the UK.
Support throughout the entire student journey
Laura from Taiwan, who studied at the University of Sheffield International College, shares her perspective:
“Before I took my flight to the UK, I received emails listing the airport pick-up services that the college provided, as well as asking if everything was fine in terms of my travel. After settling down in Sheffield, college staff also called regularly, making sure that I was adapting well to the local life.
“Studying in the international college, we had to reach the required grades to progress into the university. I sometimes felt stressed about this, but the teachers were always willing to give me advice for improving my essays and reports, and the Academic Success tutors also taught me a lot about making more effective study plans. Under this help, not only have I passed the progression requirement successfully, but I’ve also acquired a lot of useful learning skills.”
Igor from Rwanda, who studied at the University of Huddersfield International Study Centre, adds:
“When I chose to join the programme, I received support starting from my VISA application where they helped me to monitor my progress and the requirements I needed to get my visa.
“After attaining my VISA, the next step was to travel to the UK, and I was guided through this process as well. Study Group helped me to pick a suitable accommodation and even helped me to book a taxi transfer from the airport to my accommodation.
“Throughout each step that I took through my pathway program I was not alone as I always had help and could reach out to staff anytime who were responsive and helpful.”
An approach that prioritises safety and nurtures success
Katie Watt, Head of Student Experience at Study Group’s Liverpool John Moores International Study Centre shares her views:
“We're really looking forward to welcoming international students to the city and the campus. Our academic and student support teams are here to support them through their journey with us so that they can make the most of the amazing experience of studying abroad in the UK.
“We've worked with thousands of international students over the years, and we know the excitement and apprehension they’ll be feeling as they prepare to start this new journey.
“We know now is a particularly challenging time to travel internationally and taking the plunge and to the unknown can be scary. Our welfare team is always close by if they need any extra support or advice on wellbeing issues.
“So, if they’ve got a health concern or are feeling homesick or worried about anything at all - we're always here to listen.”
Shona Nixon, Student Experience and Welfare Officer at Study Group’s University of Aberdeen International Study Centre says:
“Safety and wellbeing are a priority for us at the University of Aberdeen International Study Centre (ISC).
“We'll be encouraging all staff and students to use hand sanitiser regularly. One-way systems will be in place in smaller areas. Cleaning materials and wipes will be provided for all staff and students to clean down the main touch points after entering a room, and the university also supports the wearing of face masks.
“Free and regular lateral flow testing is available on campus to all of our students and staff at the university who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. And international students will be eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine. We can help students to register with an NHS doctor and get the vaccine organised once they’ve arrived in the UK.”
Benjamin Feben, Centre Director at Study Group’s University of Surrey International Study Centre adds:
“What I would say to students who have concerns about coming to the UK in September is you've got nothing to worry about at the University of Surrey International Study Centre (ISC).
“The first thing is student outcomes. We've had our best student marks, so we know our blended learning provision really works.
“The second thing is we take everyone's safety, our staff, the team, and all of our students incredibly seriously. We've got a huge range of measures that we've had in place for over a year now. And the University of Surrey and the ISC have had excellent outcomes. And that's one of the reasons why in the recent UK national student survey, the University of Surrey is one of only six universities in the UK to improve students' satisfaction this last year. And that tells us that students feel confident and comfortable with being on campus.
“On the specifics, we've got test and trace in all the campus facilities. So that's library, catering and classrooms. We've also got signage and clear protocols in place for moving around the campus. We've got signs telling students which way to reach buildings and how to move around. We've got signs, highlighting pinch points to make sure that we don't see congestion, which we know can cause problems. And we've got a lot of space - it's very open, very bright, sunny with the lake and the trees on campus. A lot of green space. That means it's a good campus to manage from a health and safety perspective.
“We've got staff testing. So, we've got daily testing available on site. The university's working closely with local government and the university has its own testing facilities where we're able to run daily tests and make sure that we know all staff are negative if they're at work. And that facility is also open to students and all international students.
“International students will have access to vaccines. As soon as they’re registered with a GP, when they arrive, which is part of the normal arrivals process, then they can get access to vaccines straight away.
“We've also got a timetable or a rota system for making sure that we are minimising the overlap between groups of students studying in different subject areas. So that we give ourselves the best chance of achieving the outcomes that we've achieved already this year.”
Study Group CEO Emma Lancaster shares a welcome message with international students due to start their academic programme this autumn:
“We very much look forward to welcoming students to our network of International Study Centres this autumn.
"In terms of the broader UK context, most adults in the UK have now had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and work continues to ensure that everyone, including those aged 17-18, has access to the vaccination programme.
“The successful roll-out of the UK vaccination programme means that most COVID-19 restrictions on domestic travel and socialising have now been lifted throughout the UK.
“Naturally, everyone’s safety will always be our top concern, and we continue to monitor the situation closely and are ready to respond to any new guidance from the UK healthcare authorities.
“By prioritising the health and wellbeing of students, and offering on-campus, online and hybrid learning and welfare provision, we are confident that we can support all students to achieve excellent outcomes in the 2021/2022 academic year."