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Building an Internationalised Students’ Union An Internationalisation Toolkit for Students’ Unions in Higher Education


Acknowledgements NUS is extremely grateful for the financial support received for this project from the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PMI), via the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). The development of this internationalisation toolkit would not have been possible without the commitment, energy and input of the Internationalising Students’ Unions project group: Anglia Ruskin Students’ Union

Loughborough Students’ Union

Coventry University Students’ Union

Newcastle University Students’ Union

De Montfort University Students’ Union

Northumbria Students’ Union

University of Essex Students’ Union University of Exeter Students’ Guild University of Glamorgan Students’ Union

Durham Students’ Union

Queens’ University Students’ Union

Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Reading University Students’ Union

Glasgow Caledonian University Students’ Association

SOAS Students’ Union

University of Nottingham Students’ Union

St Mary’s University College Students’ Union

University of Plymouth Students’ Union

Swansea University Students’ Union

University of Portsmouth Students’ Union

University College London Students’ Union

University of Strathclyde Students’ Association

University of Bath Students’ Union

University of Surrey Students’ Union

Goldsmiths Students’ Union Hull University Union Kent Union King’s College London Students’ Union Lancaster University Students’ Union Leeds Metropolitan Students’ Union Leeds University Union Liverpool Guild of Students Liverpool Students’ Union

University of Birmingham Guild of Students University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union University of Derby Students’ Union

University of Manchester Students’ Union

University of Sussex Students’ Union Wolverhampton Students’ Union York University Students’ Union


Contents

Foreword Page 1

Introduction Page 2

Internationalisation Page 3

The International Student Experience Page 5

The Strategic Framework Page 8

Internationalisation Audit Page 10

Guidance for carrying out an audit Page 12

Audit Questions Page 14

Frameworks and Case Studies Page 26

Key Terms Page 53

Resources Page 54


Foreword

Welcome to the Internationalisation Toolkit for students’ unions in UK Higher Education (HE). This will help students’ unions make a positive impact on the experience of international students in the UK and create a more international union for all students. International student recruitment in HE has doubled over the past ten years. At present 16 per cent of students in HE are from outside the UK. There is great work being done in students’ unions to meet the needs of international students. But we can do better. This is about building better unions – unions where international students feel able to shape and contribute to the democratic process and have their needs for social engagement, academic representation and welfare support met. But we want it to be more than that. NUS is committed to internationalising the student experience for all students, by increasing the opportunities for home and international students to engage with each other and encouraging unions to consider international students in all aspects of their work.

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A dedicated group of 40 HE students’ unions and 4 FE students’ unions have worked with NUS to help test, develop and refine this toolkit to inspire and guide all students’ unions in HE. These unions have achieved great things and taken some big steps forward. There is still more to be done, but this is the start of a process through which we hope our students’ unions will become truly international communities. Liam Burns National President, NUS Christina Yan Zhang International Students’ Officer, NUS


Introduction

Over the past ten years there has been a significant increase in the total number of international students studying in the UK. Overall, international students represent 16 per cent of the total student population in HE, although these national figures conceal huge variations in patterns of enrolment. In some universities, international students make up over 25 per cent of all students. These figures tend to increase when looking at postgraduate courses. While there are examples of outstanding provision for international students in some students’ unions, there is much to be done. This toolkit provides students’ unions with information and guidance which they can use to internationalise their provision. It is not possible or appropriate to devise a single, shared strategy for all students’ unions, as they are so diverse. Instead, this report identifies key areas which all students’ unions need to address, no matter what their size or income: Democracy and Representation Campaigning Activities and Participation Services: Membership and Commercial Communication Staff and Officer Development Partnerships and Collaboration International Experience

Included in this toolkit is an introduction to internationalisation and some background to this area of work, including challenges faced by institutions and unions. A strategic framework has been included to help you formulate an internationalisation strategy for your union. Also included is an audit tool which you can use to evaluate your current provision and some guidelines about how to improve. Alongside this toolkit, there is an internationalisation hub available online. The audit can be done online which will allow you to generate an action plan based on the results. All resources can be downloaded there including copies of this toolkit and additional case studies.

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Internationalisation

Internationalisation in the context of students’ unions is defined as: • engaging, supporting and representing international students more effectively; • encouraging opportunities for integration between home and international students; • incorporating a global perspective in all areas of students’ union activity.

Why is internationalisation important? Unions are as diverse as the members they represent and it is important for international students to feel welcomed into their union. Students’ unions exist to represent and support all their students, and as such need to strive to create the same great experience for international students that they do for home students.

is increasingly globalised, and having international experiences early on, whilst still a student, creates a more culturally aware workforce. With the current focus on employability and internationalisation, it is hoped that your institution will be receptive to changes you are making to internationalise your union.

For students’ unions to be respected as the voice of the student body, it is vital that they include all students, including international students, and your influence will be greater by doing this. It is important that students’ unions are aware of the particular needs of international students and able to represent them effectively.

Increasing integration between home and international students is an objective frequently mentioned by unions. It is important not to force integration, as it must be a voluntary activity, but unions are well placed to provide opportunities for integration through activities and social events. Students’ unions should be prepared to challenge their institutions where activity with the potential to curb integration occurs, such as entirely separate induction processes and university accommodation for home and international students.

Home students have much to gain from internationalising their own experience and integrating with their international peers. UK graduates need to be able to compete in a global economy in order to gain employment in their chosen fields. Post-graduation, the world of work 3


Internationalising the Student Experience Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have shifted in recent years from an international strategy based not simply on recruitment, but towards a more holistic approach, covering a wider range of institutional activity. This involves recognising the importance of internationalising the student experience for all students, in the context of increasing competitive potential. Much work is being done to explore what this means in practice for the curricula (both formal and informal), learning and teaching, and student support. The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is a useful starting point for further information on this issue.

HEIs must comply with equality and diversity legislation by assessing the impact of their practices on race, gender and disability equality. The Equality Challenge Unit has suggested that there is an overlap between the internationalisation, equality and diversity agendas. Each emphasises the need for processes to be inclusive and accessible to all groups of students. By making your union more accessible, you are benefitting all groups of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

Students’ unions are well placed to make a positive impact in all of the areas outlined above, for the benefit of all students. You can influence the student experience in the areas of learning and teaching, co-curricula activities and social and welfare provision and play a key role in integrating international students effectively to enable their full participation in student life.

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The International Student Experience International students, like home students, are not a homogeneous group – they have multiple identities and perceive their student experience differently. International students, particularly those at postgraduate level, face many of the same issues as home students. However, due to cultural differences and distance, these are often felt more intensely. There is a growing interest in teaching and learning practice for international students. International students may share many concerns with their home student classmates, but there is increasing awareness of the distinctive challenges faced by them.

Culture shock The key distinction between international students and home students is that the former come to study in a different academic culture, often in their second or third language. This brings particular challenges for integration into academic and everyday life as everything may be unfamiliar at first. Those feelings may be shared by many home students, but are more acute for international students who may not have family and friends close by.

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International students cannot easily go home at the weekend if they are finding it difficult to settle in. Unsurprisingly, access to the internet is rated by students taking part in the International Student Barometer as one of the most important factors as it enables them to keep touch with family and friends at home.

Immigration Students from outside the EU must apply for visas to come to study in the UK and cannot stay on for further study or work without permission from the immigration authorities. As immigration policy and guidance are revised frequently, specifics details are not given here but can be found through the UK Border Agency.

There is specific provision within the Tier 4 visa system which allows international students to become a full time sabbatical officer for up to two years during or directly after their studies.

Fees The other key distinguishing feature of non-EU students is that they pay a higher rate of fee. In addition, a high proportion of non-EU students are self-financed and have restricted access to hardship funds if required. Fees for international students are uncapped and vary between and within institutions.


Key challenges There are other challenges faced by international students that have been highlighted in a number of national surveys and reviews, including: • difficulties in opening bank accounts; • concerns about accommodation costs; • safety; • discrimination; • making friends with home students; • immigration issues for students from outside the EU; • opportunities for work experience (working hours for international students are limited); • funding and scholarships (most international students are selffinanced and cannot access many scholarships); • integration with the local community.

Unions should be aware of the feelings and perceptions of their own international student population, and how this relates to the national picture. Overall satisfaction ratings among international students for students’ unions tend to be high, and while this headline rating is very encouraging, the International Student Barometer does not focus in detail on the activities of students’ unions. We know there is some excellent work going on in students’ unions, as shown by some of the case studies later on in the toolkit. Clubs and societies play a particularly important role in integrating international students.

More detailed research carried out by ECU (2008), in conjunction with the Association of Managers in Students’ Unions (AMSU) and NUS for the Inclusive Students’ Unions project found that: • international students participate less in student elections; • students’ unions find it difficult to communicate with some hard-to-reach groups (including international students); • freshers’ weeks need to be more integrated for home and international students. This highlights that whilst satisfaction levels tend to be high, international students do engage with all the opportunities open to them.

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Internationalisation Challenges Unions face a number of challenges when dealing with issues of internationalisation which need to be considered and overcome. Unions need to celebrate the differences and individuality of each culture without forcing integration. The challenges highlighted by unions include: • How to increase international students’ participation in democratic processes and representative structures. • Responding to key issues, e.g. concerns about accommodation, immigration, finances and employment, teaching and learning. • Facilitating home/international student interaction. • Providing services which meet the needs of international student members. • Establishing genuine, two-way communications with international student members and responding the different students’ perceptions of the students’ union.

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• Ensuring officers and staff have the skills to work sensitively in this area. • Developing appropriate partnerships to work on internationalising the student experience. • Creating a global union in which all students can have an international experience. The strategic framework presented here should enable you to formulate a strategy which will address some of these challenges.


The Strategic Framework It is not the intention that this toolkit will provide a ‘one size fits all’ strategy for students’ unions. However, there are key areas which have been identified that need to be addressed by all unions, irrespective of size or funding. The following framework has been developed in order to guide you when developing an internationalisation strategy for your students’ union, tailored to the needs of your institution and students. While remaining focused on the needs of international students, the long-term goal of this strategic framework is to benefit the wider student community.

Vision Our vision is of students’ unions working together to develop a vibrant, innovative and international experience for all students.

Strategic objectives The following eight strategic objectives have been developed and tested in partnership with students’ unions. Each objective relates to one of the key areas identified as having a significant impact on the international student experience and an area where unions can internationalise their activity. The aim is that these objectives will be shared by all UK students’ unions, with individual unions working towards them at their own pace and in their own way, often in partnership with others.

Democracy and Representation

Staff and Officer Development

We will ensure that all international students are able to participate in the democratic processes and representative structures of our students’ unions.

We will develop and promote learning and development opportunities for officers and staff.

Campaigning We will campaign for positive change and lobby to make sure the voices of international students are heard locally, nationally and internationally. Activities and Participation We will create opportunities for students for home and international students to come together through societies and activities.

Partnerships and Collaboration We will develop networks at local, regional and national level to support internationalisation. International Experience We will provide an international experience for all students, make unions a space where home and international students can come together and promote a global perspective in all areas of union activity.

Services: Membership and Commercial We will develop services that meet the needs of our international student members. Communications We will develop genuine twoway communication between our students’ unions and our international student members and ensure our communication is accessible and appropriate.

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Internationalisation Audit The internationalisation audit tool was produced and refined with extensive feedback from project participants, with the aim of helping each union to evaluate its current provision for international students and internationalisation activity and to identify areas for future development.

By conducting an audit, your students’ union will be able to identify a number of valuable insights: • Key issues for, and opinions of, your international student members • Key trends affecting international student members at your institution • Current areas of good practice • Partnership and collaboration opportunities • Areas that need development We hope you will use the audit tool and embed it in your strategic planning processes to help you devise an action plan to make improvements for international student members and create a more international environment for all students. It is a selfassessment tool, and is not intended as a comparative exercise with other students’ unions.

If you are already engaged with the Students’ Union Evaluation Initiative (SUEI), we hope the audit tool will enable you to answer the ‘killer question’ in relation to your international student members – ‘Has the union had a positive impact on your life as a student?’

The audit can also be completed online. Doing the audit online will allow you to produce an action plan based on your results.

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Areas to audit The audit will enable you to look in detail at your current activities in the following areas, which align with the strategic objectives highlighted earlier. • Democracy and Representation • Campaigning • Activities and Participation • Services: Membership and Commercial • Communications • Staff and Officer Development • Partnerships and Collaboration • International Experience

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The audit will ask specific questions. The audit team should gather this information and use it to grade their current position.

We encourage you to be honest and grade your current position against the following criteria:

Depending on the wording of the question this criteria will be interpreted slightly differently. For closed questions, where the answer could be yes or no, try and think beyond this and evaluate the impact and the steps for improvement you are taking.

No work or activity in this area/far below where we want to be

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Little work in this area/below where we want to be

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Some work done in this area/we want or need to improve

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Example: ‘Do you have international representatives on all your committees?’ If the Union has a small proportion of international students on committees, you may grade this as 1, but if the outcomes from that small proportion are positive you may decide to grade it a 2. If you have active and engaged international students on all committees, in positions other than the international officer, and you are proactively seeking opinions from them about your internationalisation strategy, you could grade that as a 3.

Evidence of continuous improvement in this area/we are satisfied with where we are

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We believe we are doing work of an outstanding quality/we are exceeding our targets This audit is intended to help your union with continuous improvement and it is not expected that unions will score the highest levels in every area.


Guidance for carrying out an audit Before your students’ union starts the audit you will need to consider the following factors. Baseline data You will need to gather some basic information before starting the audit process, to gain an understanding of your international student membership. If you have been involved in the Students’ Union Evaluation Initiative (SUEI) or have a culture of collecting data and analysing it you will find this step straightforward. If not, it is important to take your time at this stage to ensure your students’ union will benefit from the audit process.

Audit team We suggest you establish a team of people to oversee the audit process in your students’ union. This team will ideally include people who are interested in making a positive contribution to change in your union. You may want to task a single person with co-ordinating the audit process and team.

The team could comprise of: • sabbatical officer/s with a keen interest in international student matters; • international student representative/s; • staff member/s from membership services, commercial services, representation, welfare or activities. You need to consider how you will gather all the information required for a comprehensive audit. For example, you may wish to ask relevant managers to audit their own areas and present the results to the audit team.

Timescale It may be possible to do a fairly quick, initial desktop audit to establish the areas where you lack information and to help you establish priorities for the next stage. It is important to allocate sufficient time to assess areas of union activity as this will help the action planning process later on. In some areas you may want to gather more qualitative feedback from students. This inevitably takes more time but will help bring issues to life.

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Baseline data We suggest you use the following questions as a starting point. 01 What is the breakdown of your international students in terms of: (a) nationality; (b) gender; (c) type of study; (d) subjects studied; (e) family status; (f) faith? 02 What proportion of your international students are: (a) foundation level or presessional courses; (b) undergraduate; (c) postgraduate taught; (d) postgraduate research; (e) other – please specify? 03 What proportion of your total membership are international students?

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04 What data already exists about your international student members? Are there any recent university or union surveys? Have you looked at these in detail? 05 Does your institution take part in the International Student Barometer survey? If so, have you looked at the results and responded to any of the findings? 06 Have you examined the National Students’ Survey results for international students in your institution? 07 To what extent are your international student members concerned about issues such as integration, employment, accommodation, funding and visas, which have been identified at a national level?

08 What do you know about your international students’ opinions about their student experience in the following areas: (a) pre-arrival; (b) welcome/orientation; (c) living (accommodation/ food/religious provision etc); (d) learning; (e) support; (f) plans for the future? 09 Does your students’ union have an internationalisation strategy? 10 Does the institution have an internationalisation strategy? If so, have you considered how it may affect your international student membership? 11 If you do not have current data on future trends, where can you get this?


Audit Questions

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Democracy and Representation We will ensure that all international students are able to participate in the democratic processes and representative structures of our students’ unions. 01 What proportion of international students vote in union elections?

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02 What proportion of international students stand as union officers?

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03 How many course representatives are international students?

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04 What have you done to increase participation by international students in your elections?

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06 Do you have any international students on your officer team in roles other than international representative?

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07 Do you have an international students’ committee or association? If so, what are its main activities?

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08 Do you have international representatives on all your committees?

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09 Do you have a home student representative on your international committee/association?

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05 Have you got a part-time or full-time international student officer or similar? If so, are you able to identify the benefits for international students as a result of this position?

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10 What proportion of your delegation to NUS Conference is made up of international students?

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12 Does your union’s Strategic Plan take account of the needs of international students?

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13 Does your union have an Internationalisation Strategy?

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15 Do you have a forum to bring together student representatives and staff on international matters?

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16 Are international students represented at all levels within the university?

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11 Do any of your members attend the NUS International Students’ Conference or international networking days?

14 How does your union ensure that international students are involved in the setting of its strategic direction?

17 If your union has student trustees, do you receive applications from international students? If not, what could you do to encourage applications from international students?

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Campaigning We will campaign for positive change and lobby to make sure the voices of international students are heard locally, nationally and internationally. 01 What are the mechanisms for international students to voice the need for a campaign?

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02 Do you have any campaigns specifically on international student issues? How do you evaluate their effectiveness?

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03 To what extent do you think about the needs of international students when developing your mainstream campaigns?

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04 Do you have any campaigning figureheads? Who are these for international student campaigns?

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05 Has your students’ union engaged on local issues that have affected international students?

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08 To what extent do your international student members view you as a campaigning organisation at a national level?

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09 Do any of your members get involved with NUS International Students’ Campaign? Are any of them aware of this Campaign?

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10 How does your union effectively represent international students within NUS? What issues have you raised?

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11 What is your institution’s strategy towards international student recruitment and support? What are you doing to influence this?

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06 Are international student needs represented at a local community/authority level, e.g. through the city council or local residents’ groups? 07 To what extent do your international student members view you as a campaigning organisation for students’ rights at a local level?

12 What are the key issues you need to represent to your institution regarding international students? What is the evidence for this? 13 How do you ensure that the needs and opinions of international students are effectively represented, with regard to quality assurance of academic standards? 14 Does your union engage with the European Students’ Union (ESU)? 15 Does your union run or support any global campaigns? 17


Activities and Participation We will create opportunities for students for home and international students to come together through societies and activities. 01 What is the level of international student participation in: a. student societies; b. volunteering; c. competitive sport; d. recreational sport; e. other student-led activity?

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02 What are the levels of international student participation in other clubs and societies?

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03 What are the levels of home student participation in national/ cultural societies?

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04 With reference to the last three questions, what are you doing to investigate barriers and encourage participation?

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06 Are there home student representatives on national/cultural society committees?

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07 Are there international student representatives on other club and society committees?

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09 What is the level of participation of international students in volunteering?

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10 Are international and UK/EU students asked about integration issues, either by you or the university?

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11 To what extent are you happy with the level of integration between home and international students in your union?

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12 Do you encourage clubs and societies to work together to increase integration?

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05 How many national/cultural societies do you have? Are there any significant groups of students who do not have a national/ cultural society?

08 What evidence do you have of satisfaction levels among international students, regarding their involvement in union clubs and societies?

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Membership services We will develop services that meet the needs of our international student members. 01 What non-commercial services do you provide?

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10 Do you provide support for international students’ family members to settle into the UK? If so, what form does this take?

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11 Do you provide facilities for students of faith e.g. prayer facilities and access to local groups?

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02 What is the uptake of these services by international students? What is the evidence for this? 03 What are the levels of satisfaction among international students with your membership services? What is the evidence for this? 04 How can international students influence the non-commercial services available through the union? What evidence do you have for this? 05 Do you have international students working or volunteering in your non-commercial service activities? 06 Do you provide specialist help for international students in any of the following areas: • immigration; • accommodation; • finance and funding; • academic; • employment/finding work; • other – please specify? 07 If you do not provide specific welfare support for international students, can they access support elsewhere in your institution? 08 Do you monitor trends in academic appeals and take action where appropriate? 09 What are the levels of satisfaction among international students with institutional support services? What is the evidence for this?

12 Do you provide a safe space for students in crisis?

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Commercial Services We will develop services that meet the needs of our international student members. 01 What commercial services do you provide?

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05 Do you have international student staff working in your commercial outlets?

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06 If you have a specific outlet for international food, how much do your home students use them?

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08 Do you provide food appropriate for different faiths e.g. halal/ kosher?

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09 Do you provide food appropriate for national and cultural events?

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02 How do international students access your commercial services, and how much do they use them? What is the evidence for this? 03 What are the levels of satisfaction among international students with your commercial services? What is the evidence for this? 04 Do you have effective mechanisms for international students to influence the choice of services and/or products in your activities and venues?

07 Do you have any examples of joint working with noncommercial services to bring benefits to international students?

10 Do you hold events in non-licensed social space?

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Communications

We will develop genuine two-way communication between our students’ unions and our international student members and ensure our communication is accessible and appropriate. 01 To what extent do your international members know the function and activities of your students’ union?

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06 How do you communicate with international students during the pre-arrival period?

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07 How do you communicate with students on placement overseas?

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09 What are the perceptions held by the international student members of your students’ union?

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10 Do you have any examples of joint working with membership services to bring benefits to international students?

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02 Do you have a communications strategy that considers the international student journey and the different cultural backgrounds of international students? 03 Have you asked international students to give you feedback on all your communications in terms of: • clarity of English • appropriateness of images and language • adequate explanation • preferred media? 04 Does your union have a presence on all social networking sites (including those which are more popular in other countries)? 05 Is there an international dimension to your student media? What is the level of participation by international students in student media?

08 What mechanisms do you have for gathering international students’ opinions on issues affecting them? How do you make connections with your international student members?

11 Do you engage with international alumni networks?

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Staff and Officer Development We will develop and promote learning and development opportunities for officers and staff. 01 Do you conduct any training for officers, course representatives or staff about the issues faced by international students? If so, is this mandatory or voluntary?

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02 Do you provide any cultural awareness training for full time/ part-time officers and staff?

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03 Have you delivered the NUS Supporting International Students training resources?

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04 Are relevant members of staff involved in the NUS staff network (Students’ Unions Network for Internationalisation (SUNI))?

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05 Is your institution a member of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)?

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08 Do officers or staff attend any external courses/conferences on issues relating to international students?

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09 Have you carried out visits to other unions/institutions in the UK or overseas to look at different models of practice?

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10 Have you considered delivering cultural awareness/best practice training to other local or mission group unions?

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06 Is your students’ union a member of UKCISA?

07 Have you attended or presented at the UKCISA Conference?

11 In what other ways do you get information on best practice or develop your skills to work effectively with international students?

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Partnerships and Collaboration We will develop networks at local, regional and national level to support internationalisation. 01 Do you have a group within the union that considers the international agenda? If so, who is on the group?

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02 Is there a group which brings together the union and the university to consider international student issues?

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03 Do you have regular meetings with the International Office?

04 Have you worked with other unions to share best practice on international student matters, on a regional or national basis or with other unions in your mission group? If so, what benefits has this brought? 05 What other networks (both internal and external) are you involved with which may bring benefits to your international student membership? 06 Do you have partnerships that can help you to meet the needs of international students in the area of employability/ employment? 07 What projects do you run to help bring international students in touch with the local community? 08 Do you have working relationships with community or local organisations with an international focus, e.g. Chinese Advice Centre? 09 Have you developed links with local bodies such as local government, residents’ associations and the police to work on issues of concern to your international student members?

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International Experience We will provide an international experience for all students, make unions a space where home and international students can come together and promote a global perspective in all areas of union activity. 01 What activities does your students’ union run to encourage socialising/mixing between international students and home students?

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03 Do you involve academic departments in your internationalisation work e.g. through lectures or workshops during international celebrations?

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04 Can you identify projects that could be delivered with external partners, e.g. local schools, to foster global awareness?

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02 Do you run a global or international week/programme of events?

05 Do you promote opportunities for volunteering or working abroad?

06 Do you promote opportunities for studying abroad e.g. ERASMUS?

07 Are home and international students housed separately in university accommodation? Have you asked students for feedback on this and its effect on integration? 08 What social provision is available for international students during university holidays? 09 What do you do to help new international students settle into the UK?

10 Are home students involved in welcome activities for new international students? If so, how? 11 Do you gather feedback from international students on welcome activities?

12 Do you operate a buddy or mentoring scheme for new students?

13 Do you provide informal academic support for international students e.g. language cafĂŠs? 14 Does your union celebrate a wide range of social and cultural occasions?

15 Has your union or institution considered a hosting scheme, where international students can stay with staff temporarily for experience of living with a UK family? 16 Does your union engage with internationalised movements, e.g. Fairtrade?

17 Have you considered forging links with students and students unions overseas?

18 If you have overseas campuses, do you engage effective with these students?

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Frameworks and Case Studies

In order to help you with your strategic planning, we have included frameworks and selected case studies to help generate ideas and demonstrate how other students’ unions have addressed internationalisation and improving the international student experience. These are not exhaustive, but instead aim to give you an overview of the key areas on which to focus.

Where possible, we have included case studies from larger, well resourced unions as well as some from smaller unions. More case studies are available online.

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Democracy and Representation We will ensure that all international students are able to participate in the democratic processes and representative structures of our students’ unions.

ITEM: Informing, Targeting, Engaging and Supporting, Monitoring and Evaluating

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Informing

Targeting

• Explain the definition and purpose of a students’ union. Students’ unions operate differently in different countries and some places may not be familiar with the concept of a students’ union. This also applies to other terms familiar to those working in students’ unions, including democracy, manifesto, hustings and many more. Be clear and concise and avoid jargon. • Give students information as early as possible about democratic processes, the timings of elections and how to stand and vote. You may be able to include this information in prearrival material. • Outline the benefits of getting involved. • For sabbatical elections, provide information about visas and sponsorship as one barrier is that some international students do not know it is possible to run for full time positions. Information on visa provision for sabbatical officers is available on the UKBA website.

• Be proactive and ensure that you make an effort to speak to international students about the possibility of getting involved. • Some unions have seen positive outcomes from meeting individually with international students who are already involved in the students’ union and highlighting the benefits of running for a post. • Encourage all candidates to think about international students when writing their manifestoes. Highlight the proportion of international students which voted in the previous year and use this as an incentive for candidates to speak to this group of students. This also works for other underrepresented groups. • Create tailored materials for international students that target their specific issues, concerns and ambitions. • There are some key places which can be targeted to increase the number of democratically engaged international students. These include international

societies, courses with a high number of international students, your chaplaincy or faith centre or halls with a high number of international students.

Engaging and Supporting • Make sure that you work to engage not only international students to stand and vote but also to engage and support all candidates, officers and staff in understanding and considering international student issues. • Ensure meetings are accessible as not all students will be comfortable meeting in bars. Promote your union have a variety of events. • Buddy and mentor schemes for new international students can be a great way to help students get involved and to understand the benefits that the student union brings. Language confidence is often cited as a barrier to involvement, and running conversation clubs and language exchanges can also help students build confidence and meet others. • Encourage current international


officers to attend training available through NUS and build the capacity of your existing international cohort to engage more international students. You should also encourage your representative to attend the International Students’ Conference. • Deliver the Supporting International Students Training in your institution ensure that all staff and officers know about international student issues and are culturally aware. This is available online.

Monitoring and Evaluating • Ensure that there is the opportunity for international students to be represented at all levels of representation in your union, including course reps, club and society committees, union councils and any other representative structures. If you do not have an International Students’ Officer, consider creating one. • The Inclusive Students’ Unions Report (2009) suggested that there are groups who are poorly

represented as student officers. These include BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) students, postgraduate students and students who hold a religious belief. All of these subgroups form a proportionally higher percentage of the international student population. Conduct research and surveys to find out what the experiences of your students are and consider the different equality groupings as well as the international student cohorts in this research. • Carry out equality monitoring of candidates running for election as well as those who get elected into post. This can help identify where the barriers lie. • Act on the information you find and make sure that you close the feedback loop and report your findings back to international students. Identify two or three key improvements you can take forward next year. • Using online voting this will allow you track who is voting (or more importantly who is not) so you can target specific groups.

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Northumbria Students’ Union: International Student Representation Northumbria Students’ Union has created a new representation structure, to ensure that international students’ voices are heard in the union. Instead of a part-time international students officer they now have three reps – one general, one for EU students, and one for non-EU students. The three reps sit on Union Council. The union has also worked hard to get international students involved in other representative roles. Targeted information on elections and how to run has led to significant increases in the number of international students standing for officer positions in the students’ union. They have also increased participation in academic representation structures, and 1 in 6 school reps are now international students.

King’s College London Students’ Union: Targeting International Students for Nominations and Elections KCLSU highlighted international students as one of their target audiences for nominations and elections. They completed an audit of elections for the past 4 years and identified that 9.3 per cent of candidates were international students, meaning international students were significantly underrepresented. KCLSU identified two key strategies to target international students with news about nominations: • Promote roles which may appeal the most to them (VPAA, President, Trustees). • Encourage them to bring their international perspective to the Student Officer roles (as opposed to promoting what the roles can do for them).

They got the message out to international students in five ways: • Direct e-mails – e-mails reflected the two strategies above. • Website – the website content about elections took into consideration international students (as well as other underrepresented groups – postgraduate students and parttime students). • Face to face promotion – two student staff were recruited for peer to peer promotion to go out to busy campus spots to specifically talk to international, postgraduate and part-time students about nominations and elections. • Lecture Announcements (shout-outs) – current officers announced the opportunity to get involved in nominations in various lectures. • Accommodation – information was left in halls (specifically halls known to have international students). Following their campaign to increase international student participation in student union democracy, KCLSU elected an international student to a sabbatical officer position for the first time.

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York University Students’ Union: Representing International Students through the International Students’ Association York University Students’ Union (YUSU) decided to increase the representative role of the International Students’ Association (ISA) by bringing it under the students’ union and making its President the parttime International Students’ Officer for the students’ union. The ISA has a large membership, but had previously functioned independently from the union and focused on social events and activities. The union hopes that under the new structure the ISA will be a channel for international students to get their voice heard in the union.

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Campaigning

We will campaign for positive change and make sure the voices of international students are heard locally, nationally and internationally.

EVIA (based on the Apathy Staircase): Experience, Injecting Injustice, Visioning, Action Experience • Ensure there are mechanisms for international students to voice the need for a campaign and communicate with the union about their experiences. There should be clear guidance on the support that international students can expect to receive from the students’ union if they are looking to raise an issue • Canvass international student opinion in a variety of ways. Have an elected international officer to represent international issues on your executive committee, set up an international committee that can be consulted on major decisions and formulate robust communication strategies and encourage all officers to go out and talk to international students about their experiences • Consider the needs of international students as a distinct group when developing your mainstream campaigns.

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• Capture the issues impacting on international students at all levels, within your institution and community, and at local, national and international government levels.

Injecting Injustice • International students may be less likely to complain or voice their opinions for cultural reasons or fears about visa implications. In addition, a lack of language confidence may also compound this. Research by the Equality Challenge Unit suggests this may be particularly significant when it comes to academic issues. • Make it clear that feedback is welcome, that they are able to challenge decisions and situations they are unhappy with and support them to do this.

• When an issue is raised, establish trust through face to face discussions. Contextualise their experience to establish whether it was what they expected and how it compares to the experiences of other students. • Use available evidence to highlight differences between the international student experience and the home student experience. This is available through surveys or examples and case studies. NUS can assist you with this and there are examples listed in the references. • Highlight any injustices to home and international students and engage all students in any campaigns


Visioning • Plan and identify solutions bear in mind that international students are not a homogenous group and will have different opinions, so try and get feedback from as many different international student cohorts as possible. Use all communication methods open to you. Run planning and brainstorming sessions with your international students’ committee and societies. • The key to effective campaigns are SMART objectives. Pick your aim and then create the right objectives - this will help you demonstrate the impact. Consider how the campaign may progress and whether there are different methods you will use depending on different outcomes as you move through.

• Make sure your campaign has a tangible result – move beyond raising awareness and focus on creating change. The issue should be widely felt, deeply felt and winnable. • Speak with other unions who have had similar issues and see what they have done – use best practice networks and contact the NUS International Students’ Campaign.

Action • Ensure your whole executive committee are onboard so they can help promote the campaign – let NUS and other unions know about it too. • Use a variety of campaigning methods and try to be innovative. Look at creative campaigns that other unions have run for inspiration. • Reflect upon the campaign and evaluate its impact. Measure success against your objectives and use this to consider how you could improve your next campaign. Get feedback from all students, including international students, on the methods and outcome.

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University of Exeter Students’ Guild: Campaigning on Student Visas

SOAS Students’ Union: Lobbying for a Global University

Liverpool Students’ Union: International Students’ Society

International students at University of Exeter launched the “No Visa No Party” campaign in response to the UKBA consultation in January 2011 on changes to the student visa rules. They collected evidence from students and local businesses on the potential impact of proposed changes to working rules, the availability of post-study-work visas, and visas for dependents. Students then worked with the Students’ Guild to prepare submissions for the Home Affairs Select Committee and the UKBA consultation.

SOAS Students’ Union have been using the “Global University Charter” produced by the NUS International Students’ Campaign to lobby for changes in their university. Through meetings with university management they have secured agreement on the majority of the points in the charter. They are continuing to lobby for a more transparent policy on international student fees. The international students’ officer promoted the NUS post study work visa survey and ensured that more than 1000 international students from SOAS responded – providing important evidence for the NUS campaign on student immigration.

As part of its commitment to ensuring that the union is driven by the voice of its members, Liverpool Students’ Union (LSU) created an action plan to ensure that the 10% of their demographic who are international students feel engaged with LSU. The plan centres on supporting key activists to campaign for international students’ rights and providing the resources for the international student voice to be heard not just within the university and the local community but on a National level. The union’s first key project was to set up an International Society, chaired by one of the union’s key activists. The union organised two networking evenings for international students, one of which had a focus group element where students were asked to fill in surveys telling us about their time at Liverpool John Moores University and experiences so far with LSU. The union is currently working with the International Society to make changes based on the results of this research.


Activities and Participation We will create opportunities for students for home and international students to come together through societies and activities.

GAME: Global Perspective, Awareness of Diversity, Monitoring Participation, Engaging and Integrating Global Perspective • Encourage integration by having an international rep position on sports and society committees and a home rep position on cultural or national society committees. • Create incentives for societies to increase their international student membership, and for cultural and national societies to increase their home student membership. This could include a small financial prize to spend on an event or activity.

Awareness of Diversity • Deliver the Supporting International Students training modules to staff working in students activities so they have an awareness of the international student population at your institution. • Check that all major countries and areas are represented within societies, particularly in relation to your membership. If there are any significant omissions, work with international students from that region to assist them in setting up a society.

• Ensure that your societies are accessible. Speak to societies about avoiding jargon and overuse of acronyms. If there are initiations, ensure that non-alcoholic alternatives are available and that participation is not a pre-requisite for further involvement in the club or society.

Monitoring Participation • Gather data on international student participation and develop a strategy for increasing this where improvements could be made. • Ask international students that are already involved to write testimonials about what they have enjoyed about being a member of societies and promote this though student media channels.

Engaging and Integrating • Set up a fund which clubs and societies can bid to for joint projects. Promote working together and innovative partnerships.

• Some unions have seen positive results with ‘Give it a Go’ programmes, with a variety of different activities available for low financial and time commitment. • Offer more than one opportunity to get involved. International students may miss club and society fairs when settling in at the beginning of term, which may be the only chance to join societies. Consider holding another fair later in the year. • Hold volunteering fairs and ensure you involve and target international students. Encourage the international societies to get involved with local community groups and run community activities. Ensure voluntary work by international students receives coverage in your student media to engage more international students • Promote the specific benefits of volunteering to international students. These include language skills, integration and a greater knowledge of British culture.

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University College London Union: In-country Pre-arrival Briefings by Societies

University of Portsmouth Students’ Union: Establishing international student societies

Loughborough Students’ Union: International Students’ Volunteering Handbook

UCL Union received funding from the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PMI), in order to organise in-country briefings for international students during the summer holidays. Cultural societies were provided with grants, which they used to organise activities in their home country. The Malaysian society organised a camping trip, for example, while the Chinese Society organised a meal. The students who were to carry out the briefing received training from the union, so that they were able to pass on key messages about the students’ union to the new students. This year, the union has found that several of their societies want to run events, even without additional funding. The societies are organising for prospective UCL students to meet in their home countries for low budget but effective events, such as meeting students in cafés or organising a picnic.

Portsmouth Students’ Union has worked hard to support international students to set up societies. Students have set up a Romanian Society, a Bulgarian Society and a Nepalese Society in addition to the Indian, Pakistani and Chinese Societies which already existed. These student societies played an important role in the union’s One World Week, running stalls and organising cultural presentations at the popular “Around the World in One Day” event. This event was held in the “third space” an area in the union which has been designed to be flexible, creating a “pop-up” union where diverse activities can take place.

Action, the volunteering section of Loughborough Students’ Union, produced a volunteering handbook specifically aimed at international students. The handbook included a welcome from officers and staff in the volunteering department, and from the Vice Chancellor of the university. It also introduced students to the International Students’ Volunteer Coordinator, and the Action Committee – all elected positions. It then provided students with information about projects they can get involved in, including projects with an international element as well as projects in the union and the local community. Finally, the handbook informed students about the awards they could receive in recognition for their voluntary work.


Membership Services We will develop services that meet the needs of our international student members.

HELP: Holistic and Diverse, Expert Advice, Learning and Responding, Participation and Ownership Holistic and Diverse • Appreciate the diverse make up of the international students and the multitude and scope of different needs that they have. Services should take into account the specific needs of international students in terms of: • Academic Support – specific academic needs of international students including language requirements and academic representation and plagiarism can be a particular issue. • Mental and Physical Wellbeing – the risk of mental health issues are higher among international students due to the increased stresses they often face. Physical wellbeing can be impacted by new culture, food and issues engaging with a new health service. • Finance – high fees, a lack of access to support funding and limited working hours can cause financial issues.

• Visas and Immigration – in many places this area of work is done by the institution. Ensure that you have a basic understanding of the issues but that you know when to refer the issue to a specialist advisor. This can be particularly important for those working in employment or careers advice, as there are restrictions on the number of hours that international students can work. • Accommodation – this can be a particular issue for new students, especially if they are not housed in university accommodation. Students in later years can find themselves in difficulty relating to not having a full understanding of the contract they have signed. • Try to think of innovative solutions to these problems and to build capacity so international students can support each other. Provide support in a variety of formats, through written guides, face to face conversations, web resources, peer support, buddy schemes and drop in services.

Expert Advice • Ensure that staff and student officers are informed and up to date on international student issues. • It is really important that volunteers, officers and staff know the boundaries of their knowledge, when to refer to specialists and who those people are. Create clear signposting to services so that students understand what support is offered by the institution and the students’ union, highlighting overlaps and clear divisions. • Establish strong connections with institutional International Office. • Establish links with external expert networks and advisory bodies such as UKCISA to make sure you have access to advice and guidance for wider issues. Engaging with the NUS Staff Internationalisation Network will also help you to do this. Local community groups with a specific national or cultural focus 36


may also be able to provide informal networks for you and your students. • Promote available web resources and guidance to international students, including through pre-arrival networks and blogs. Current international students can help you design and distribute these materials.

Learning and Responding • Changes in the legal system and global political events mean that the support needs of international students are constantly evolving and the ability to respond to this is paramount. Monitor international events which could have an impact on your students. • Constant evaluation of services through surveys and face to face discussions with students will be useful. • Be flexible when responding to new challenges and changes in the law including changes in the visa system. Recent changes will require a shift in the careers support offered to international students.

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• Review your mechanisms for supporting international students in times of crisis. Natural disasters, the impact of recession, and wars or conflict have an impact on international students studying in the UK. Examine your past approach and look at what your union has learned and how you can improve on this in the future.

Participation and Ownership • The more international students that are involved the more likely your services are to be tailored to better understand and meet their needs. Target international students to involve them in services through volunteering as international students are more likely to use services if they see international students working there. Liaise with the international officer and committee on a regular basis to ensure your services are appropriate and marketed correctly. • If you have international staff in the organisation, see if they have any insights that they could bring to the running of this service.


St Mary’s University College Students’ Union: Support for International Students

Edinburgh University Students’ Association: Peer Proofreading Service

University of Birmingham Guild of Students: Christmas Socials

St Mary’s University College has a small but fast-growing international student population. The union had recently set up an international society with an elected chair, to provide support for students. Together with the international society, the union ran a series of groups to determine what support international students needed from the union. As a result of these groups, they decided to set up a buddy scheme for international students, to be run by the students’ union and the international office.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association set up a proof reading scheme so that international students could receive support from their peers. Native Englishspeaking student volunteers received training in how to proofread without contravening plagiarism regulations. Non-native English speakers can send their work to be proof read through the service to be checked. The scheme has been very successful. The proof reading service at EUSA operates alongside two other peer support projects at EUSA aimed at helping international students: an International Buddy Project and a Tandem English Café where students can learn languages from each other.

University of Birmingham Guild of Students organised social activities for students staying in university accommodation over the Christmas holidays, which can be a lonely time for international students a long way from home.

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Commercial Services

We will develop services that meet the needs of our international student members.

DASH: Diversity and Influence, Accessibility and Provision, Staff and Training, Hearing Feedback

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Diversity and Influence

Accessibility and Provision

• Engage all students when planning your services and get input from a diverse range of students. Liaise with international students about the products and services you offer and are planning to offer. This is a good discussion topic to present to your international officer or committee. • Look at ways of offering more diverse products, potentially working with local suppliers. Think beyond food and ask students what other products and services they would find useful. • If you run your own commercial services, make it clear that the profits are reinvested in the students’ union.

• Look at what you are providing and how it is used. Ensure you have monitoring processes in place that capture the different groups of students that use your services and include international students as a distinct group. • Include international students when as a distinct group monitoring use of your service. Look for differences and trends that will help you to understand how international students use your services – remember that they are not a homogenous group and there may be significant variations between different groups of international students • Consider any specific provisions you may need to make to make your services more accessible to international students. This could include clearly labelling food and ingredients. • Be aware of your international student population and design your provision accordingly – if

you have a large number of students from a particular national, cultural or faith background, you could adapt your provision in line with festivals or events. • Look at how you can establish joint working with membership services to bring benefits to international students • Review your marketing materials and channels to see whether they are appropriate for your audience.

Staff and Training • The attitudes and knowledge of staff in commercial outlets on campus can have a big impact on the international student experience. • Include cultural awareness training as part of the induction process for all staff. Materials to help you with this are available online. • Ensure all staff selling or working with food are trained in dietary needs and are aware of products available.


• Monitor the number of international students applying for and receiving jobs in your commercial outlets.If you have an outlet solely selling international food, try to include home students in the staff team. Provide clear guidance and support for international students in terms of working hours and visa restrictions – ensure managerial staff have full training in this area. • Consider the different expectations of service that international students may have.

Hearing Feedback • Ensure that you are hearing the international student voice when capturing customer satisfaction levels. Make certain that you are actively asking them for their views. Include international students as a distinct group when asking for feedback. You could ask a group to be ‘mystery shoppers’ and provide an international perspective on your provision.

• Use a variety of feedback methods including face to face feedback, online surveys, focus groups and comment card competitions. Capture new suggestions and ideas – international students bring with them an international perspective that could lead to an innovative new approach to your business. • Act on the feedback you receive and take action to address areas of concern. • Share your results with the rest of the officer team to get their input and research the commercial viability of different ideas with the relevant union staff member(s). • Close the feedback loop – let international students know that you have acted on their feedback.

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University of Bath Students’ Union - Fresh Oriental Food Shop University of Bath Students’ Union originally ran just one grocery store on campus (Fresh), offering a standard range of groceries and a small selection of international products. After conducting a number of customer feedback surveys they realised that the product range did not meet the needs of international students from China, India, Japan and South East Asia who account for about 30 per cent of the international student population. With the support of the International Office and the university they were able to open another retail outlet specialising in products familiar to many international students. Staff and students are able to buy large volumes of rice, and other products which they endeavour to source from local suppliers. Similarly, Fresh Oriental stocks products such as vegetables that may not be found

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in the local supermarket – fresh and frozen tofu and halal meat. Most staff working in the shop are international students. They are able to give ongoing advice to the union on the product range, as well as advice to customers on using the products and recipes. The shop has become a social centre for many students. Fresh Oriental staff are also very proactive at promoting products during events such as Chinese New Year to all staff and students.

Loughborough Students’ Union: Universal Thursdays Loughborough Students’ Union has established a weekly international and postgraduate student entertainment event – ‘Universal Thursday’ – set up by a group of international students working alongside a full-time staff member. The night has international music from around the world, and attracts more than 700 students a week. Universal Thursday has raised the profile of international students on campus, and has allowed the union to raise awareness of dates in the international calendar such as Chinese New Year. At the event there are photographers who take pictures of students which are uploaded to the students’ union website, providing further publicity. As well as attracting international students, Universal Thursday is also attended by home students who enjoy the international atmosphere of the event.


Communications

We will develop genuine two-way communication between our students’ unions and our international student members and ensure our communication is accessible and appropriate. TALE: Timing and Planning, Angle and Relevance, Language and Culture, Evaluation and Development Timing and Planning • Ensure that part of your union’s communications strategy focuses on international students and ask international students to be involved in the development and review of this. • Find out what information currently goes out to students before they arrive and see if you can influence or add to this. Institutions begin to develop these materials early in the calendar year so you will need to speak to them early on if you would like to coordinate prearrival materials.

• Develop pre-arrival networks online and use social networking sites to connect with students before they arrive in the UK. Be aware that sites which are frequently used in the UK are not always the most popular elsewhere, so try to ensure that your union has a presence on a wide variety of platforms. • If you run a buddy or mentoring skills, match mentors and mentees pre-arrival. • Induction is a key time to communicate with international students and an important point to engage. However, be aware of ‘information overload’ – define your key messages and repeat them throughout the term.

• During exam and assessment times, target information that will help international students. The culture of learning and teaching may be very different from what some students have been used to so this would be a good time to distribute information about plagiarism and promote academic support. • For ongoing engagement, consider international students as a distinct group during any communications. Consult with your international committees on bigger issues and ensure you have mechanisms for feedback in place that are clearly communicated to international students.

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Angle and Relevance

Language and Culture

Evaluation and Development

• Consider whether you are sending or speaking with international students about information that is appropriate and interesting. Use a variety of communication methods including face to face • Create tailored materials that can be sent out to students pre-arrival and to welcome them to the students’ union when they arrive. Include important information on issues such as democracy as well as fun events and activities they can attend during orientation. • Review your materials regularly to ensure they are up to date. • Get international students involved in producing leaflets, web pages, videos and podcasts as well as engaging them in the planning process. Collect informal feedback on the communications they have received in the past and harness their personal experience in improving processes. Ask international students that are involved in media societies to help you with this. • Your chaplaincy or faith centre can be the first point of contact for international students and may have a good understanding of key issues so build up a good relationship with them.

• Culture – ensure the literature you create is culturally sensitive. • It is generally accepted that international students do not want literature translated when they have come here to study in English. However, having a word such as ‘welcome’ or a phrase like ‘get involved’ in different languages can be a signal to international students that the union has a global perspective and wants international students to get involved. • Try to avoid using jargon and slang. Some institutions translate key guides for more technical issues regarding visas and bank accounts into some of the most popular languages, whereas other have produces guides detailing the definitions of key terms.

• Evaluation is a key part of any process and time to do this thoroughly should be built into your communications strategy from the beginning and be part of an ongoing process. • Use a variety of methods and take action based on feedback. Take into account that people from some cultures are less likely to complain or provide feedback. • When closing the feedback loop, bear in mind that many international students may only be here for a sort time. Consider how you can let them know you act on their suggestions.


University of Surrey Students’ Union: International Student Guide

Kings’ College London Students’ Union: International Student Research

The University of Surrey Students’ Union produced an International Student Guide for students starting in September 2010, providing information about the union and how to get involved in its activities. The handbook was written in plain English and includes a glossary to key students’ union jargon. It includes stories from international students who are involved in the union and an introduction to the union’s international societies at the union, as well as useful information about trips, volunteering, support services and key union facilities.

King’s College London Students’ Union carried out quantitative and qualitative research with international students at the same time as they were completing an internationalisation audit. The research aimed to identify support and services which the union could provide to improve international students’ experience, and to help determine the priorities for action. The research focused on the responses of 440 international students to the KCLSU annual survey 2010, four focus groups involving 30 undergraduate and postgraduate international students, and 10 oneto-one interviews with international students involved in societies.

University of Strathclyde Students’ Association: DiverCity! Magazine

The research focused on four key points: • induction and orientation; • integration • communication; • attitude to KCLSU. The results of the research were compiled into a report with recommendations for the union. The primary recommendation was a joint partnership with King’s College to look into international student issues. Secondary recommendations were to build a better partnership with King’s during orientation, extending the welcome period for international students to allow more to access orientation activities, and providing tailored information for international students on a specific section of the KCLSU website.

From January 2010, the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association published a monthly supplement to the union’s newspaper the Strathclyde Telegraph. The supplement is called DiverCity! and highlights the diverse nature of the union. It contains news stories relating to international students, as well as those relating to women students, black students, LGBT students and disabled students. The supplement also provides information to readers about union services that are available and how to access them. 44


Staff and Officer Development We will develop and promote learning and development opportunities for officers and staff.

TEST: Training, External Memberships and Events, Sharing Best Practice, Taking the Lead Training • Provide cultural awareness training and training in the issues that impact on international students for all staff and officers even if they do not have a specific remit for international students. Training materials are available online. • Run in-house training programmes for staff, student officers, class reps and volunteers. Freshers’ volunteers should also be trained, and consider meeting international students at the local airport, train or bus station. • Embed this training in the induction process for new staff and officers. • Look at the training available through NUS. Ensure that your officers and international committee members are aware of these opportunities and are encouraged to attend – these opportunities include specific international officer training, as well as activist, campaigns and leadership training.

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External Memberships and Events • Look into membership of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). • Ensure that your union is represented at the NUS International Students’ Conference and networking days. If they are unable to attend, contact the NUS International Students’ Committee as they may be able to pass useful information on. • Encourage your outstanding international students to submit entries for the British Council ‘Shine!’ awards.

Sharing Best Practice • Peer learning can benefit international students but also union staff and officers. Visit other unions and institutions in the UK or overseas to look at different models of practice. • Join the Students’ Unions Network for Internationalisation (SUNI). • If you have had a particularly successful project, offer to run a workshop or presentation at NUS events such as the International Students’ Committee Networking

Days, or submit a proposal for the UKCISA Conference. • Remember to share best practice within the union too. Bring together student societies that work with international students, support staff as well as student officers and discuss the best ways to engage and support them.

Taking the Lead • If you feel you are already doing a lot in terms of developing your officers and staff perhaps they can take the lead and help develop other unions. If you are doing new or innovative work bring it to the attention of NUS and the NUS International Students’ Committee. • Start a local or mission group internationalisation network bringing together institutions. This is a great way to share best practice,generate ideas and identify areas for joint working and capacity building. • Engage with the European Students’ Union through NUS see how you can contribute to policy and project work and look at what is happening on a European level.


Coventry University Students’ Union: Training Programme for Front-Line Staff Coventry University Students’ Union carried out an audit in their union, and identified three priority areas of work: staff and officer development and training, communications and networking. In addition to carrying out research visits to other unions, they have developed the first session of a training programme for front line staff in the union. The union has trained staff in front line roles who deliver direct services to students in administration, volunteering, marketing, sports and societies admin. The purpose of the training is: • to give these key staff an understanding of the numbers of international students, the range of countries of origin and the critical mass of students from various countries that make a sustainable interest group (e.g. 1,000 Indian students);

• to make all staff aware of the internationalisation agenda so that they can all play a part in delivering services to students and that this is a long term strategy; - to make sure staff members understand the importance of collecting information and data on international students; • - to surprise them about what they do not know about the membership. • This session will be repeated to Union Council members and other non-sabbatical officers in their training and to student staff when recruited in September and will form a permanent part of the annual training programme. They will be carrying out a Training Needs Analysis following this session to deliver further support and training in this area.

Edinburgh Internationalisation Network Edinburgh University Students’ Association set up a network of students’ unions in Edinburgh, to share good practice on internationalisation and to organise joint activities. The network had its inaugural meeting in May 2011, with representatives from six students’ associations in the city. Participants discussed induction events and materials for international students, and joint training activities. They are setting up an area on NUS Connect for sharing resources, and are planning joint Freshers’ events. They are also working on a project to provide an introduction to local slang for international students arriving in Edinburgh.

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Partnerships and Collaboration We will develop networks at local, regional and national level to support internationalisation.

NILE: NUS Networks, International Connections, Local International Communties, External Organisations NUS Networks • There are a number of networks you can engage with through NUS that will help you develop partnerships and sector knowledge: »» International Students’ Campaign (officers) »» Students’ Union Network for Internationalisation (staff) »» Linking up with other unions locally and nationally »» Using resources available on NUS Connect.

International Connections • Look at opportunities for international partnerships that your union could be developing. Your institution may have international relationships and you could make links with these unions. • If your institution has a campus abroad, be creative about engaging and supporting these students. 47

• Find ways of linking with international students on exchange programmes and find ways can you link with them and link with their home institutions. Use the same strategy for students who go on an international placement. • Access the European Students’ Union website and see what is happening in Europe and if there are any projects you would like to be involved with

Local International Communities • Get involved with local cultural and international Community groups. employability skills. • Look at the work already happening and expand on this. It is likely some of your societies, executive members, committee members, institution or the chaplaincy may have links with local community groups already and relationships you can work to develop.

External Organisations • Look at the membership and relationships that you and your institution have with external organisations and keep an eye open for interesting events relating to international students. Ensure you are on mailing lists to hear about upcoming training, conferences and information. • Key organisations can be found in the Resources.


Coventry University Students’ Union: Project Funding form the University Coventry University Students’ Union carried out an internationalisation audit in their union, and developed several projects they would like to work on as a result. They put in a funding bid for £140,000 from their Vice Chancellor and were awarded the money. Their bid for internationalising the union was selected as the best of the 40 proposals entered for the Vice Chancellor’s Fund. The funding will allow them to undertake all of their planned projects, including a member of staff to coordinate activities, installation of international television in the union, production of a pre-arrival DVD, an international film programme, establishing ten country-based societies, and creating a mentor programme for international students.

University of Birmingham Guild of Students: Joint Working with Advice Services After carrying out an internationalisation audit, University of Birmingham Guild of Students decided to improve their systems for collecting data on international students, in order to better identify their needs. From September 2009 the Advice and Representation Centre (ARC) kept spreadsheets

to record key information about how students were using their services. Similar records were kept by the Jobshop. The Guild then took action on the basis of the data collected. For example, they successfully protected the budget for employability workshops, having identified that 30% of those using the workshops were international students. They have used data on appeals to work with schools on a joint strategy for tackling plagiarism. The Guild has also built a closer working relationship with the International Students’ Advisory Service (ISAS) based in the university. ISAS has been moving away from a focus on visas and towards a more holistic approach, and joint-working with the Guild has been an important element in this move towards a focus on the international student experience. ISAS and the Guild have worked closely on international student orientation, and on events such as Christmas socials.

University of Bath Students’ Union: Joint Union/University Post The University of Bath Students’ Union works closely with the International Office and has over the last few years looked at ways of developing closer working relationships. In September 2007, the Chief Executive of the Students’ Union and the Senior Assistant

Registrar with responsibility for the International Office put forward a proposal for a member of staff who would work across both departments. The remit for this member of staff is to work on student-facing issues within the International Office, including organising events for orientation week, while in the student union they take a more strategic role, to look at the current experience of international students and the barriers to participation in the union. There are many advantages to this joint role, including the fact that the knowledge of individual students’ aspirations and impressions which are gleaned from the face-to-face work in the International Office can be extremely useful when considering the current provision within the students’ union and possible changes. The Students’ Union has for some years collected participation statistics on all membership services areas, such as volunteering, representation, welfare, sports, societies, jobshop and training. The member of staff is able to use these statistics to identify the areas where there is a high participation rate by international students and those where there is a disproportionately low participation and to ask pertinent questions and draw up an action plan. The role has recently been widened to include Postgraduate students as well.

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International Experience We will provide an international experience for all students, make unions a space where home and international students can come together and promote a global perspective in all areas of union activity.

WISE: Worldwide Culture, International Projects and Partnerships, Strategy for Internationalisation, Exchanges and Study Abroad Worldwide Culture • Create a culturally diverse atmosphere within your institution. Speak with the international committee and international students and ask whether their cultures are represented in your union building, social schedule and facilities. • Help facilitate events with an international flavour and encourage international students and international societies to lead on this. • Look at the diversity of food served in the students’ union and suggest ways this could be improved. Recognise cultural and religious festivals. • Ensure your social programme is culturally diverse and provide events in non-licensed social space. • If your International Office runs trips to places of interest, investigate the possibility of opening these up to home students.

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International Projects and Partnerships

Strategy for Internationalisation

• Look at how you can get involved with international campaigns and projects. You may find that some of your societies are already engaged with fundraising, awareness raising or volunteering. Key campaigns include International Women’s Day, Amnesty Campaigns and Fairtrade. Engage with NUS liberation campaigns. • Form links with students’ unions in other countries. You could do this directly, through international students on exchange programmes, use academic links to institutions, get in touch through European Students’ Union or contact NUS to discuss any other projects they may be involved with internationally • Recognise and map the projects you do have running already. Perhaps there are societies linking up with international charities and campaigns.

• Having a clear plan of how you are going to internationalise will allow you to track your progress and give you to measure the impact of the work you are doing. This is key to your internationalisation process and there is guidance earlier in this document which will help you. • Look at best practice models if you are unsure where to start and engage international students in this process. • Ensure your internationalisation looks at both outward and inward mobility. • Look at where you strategy links in with your institution’s strategy and identify opportunities for joint working. There also may be opportunities for joint working with other HE or FE institutions. • Make sure everyone in your executive committee and staff are aware of this strategy – there needs to be buy in from everyone if you want to embed the ethos of internationalisation in the culture of your union.


Exchanges and Study Abroad Opportunities • One of the best ways to get home students to understand the importance of internationalisation and the challenges international students face is to encourage them to have the experience themselves. It is also hugely beneficial in terms of confidence building and employability. • Make sure all students are aware of the exchange schemes available and the funding available to take part. Widen access to these opportunities – organise events with academic staff and students to discuss opportunities for study abroad • Look at shorter mobility windows and promote summer study or volunteering programmes to open up opportunities for more students and provide fundraising support and training. Promote the employability benefits this will bring.

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Edinburgh University Students’ Association: Institutional International Strategy

University of Exeter Students’ Guild: Events with International Student Societies

Edinburgh University Students’ Association worked closely with the university to create and implement their International Strategy. Developing a global student community is one of the cornerstones of the international strategy, and EUSA is leading on this area of work. The university funded EUSA to employ an Internationalisation Coordinator, who runs the EUSA Global programme. This programme included the internationalisation audit and resulting projects: an International Round Table to encourage cooperation between international societies, language learning opportunities, peer support schemes, volunteering, improved class representation, postgraduate engagement and student societies. EUSA’s work was showcased in the university’s Internationalisation Strategy Highlights 2010 report.

University of Exeter Students’ Guild has worked with international societies to organise a number of successful events: • Chinese New Year celebration saw collaboration between the Chinese Society, Students Guild, University and Community. 2000 people attended the day long event and feedback was incredibly positive. Student volunteers from all nationalities worked on the event. • Asian Society in collaboration with the Guild and University ran a very successful Diwali Celebration which saw 1,000 people attend – a huge achievement for the first time the event has been run. • A collection of International Societies got together to run Asia Night for 500 people at a local community centre in the city. This event sold out. • International Society achieved sponsorship to run a Football World Cup competition with 5 a side teams from all nationalities being represented.

Loughborough University Students’ Union: Experience the World Website Loughborough University Students’ Union launched the Experience the World website to encourage students to take up international opportunities. This is a complete source for students on how they can have an international experience at Loughborough. They can find out how to “enjoy the world” by celebrating cultures and festivals, “study the world” by working or studying abroad, “save the world” by taking part in international campaigns or undertaking voluntary work overseas, “explore the world” and share their travel experiences, “involve the world” by teaching others about their culture, and “play the world” by taking part in international sports programmes. The campaign has also organised events at the union including an international Carnival at the end of the year. Outstanding contributors in each of the categories above were awarded prizes for their work.


De Montfort University Students’ Union: English Café De Montfort Students’ Union set up various pilot projects based on the results of their internationalisation audit. The most successful of these to date has been the English Cafe. 12 volunteers received training to become language tutors to students looking to improve their confidence in speaking English. The Cafe runs as an informal meeting place, for 2 hours each week with many students returning each week to catch up with new friends and practice their English with a free cup of tea or coffee. Around 40 students attend the Cafe each week and requests for the Cafe to run a second session on a different day are being explored. In addition the group have set up a language exchange with French the first language being delivered to students at a separate session. Feedback has excellent, from university staff as well as students.

Newcastle University Students’ Union: Culture Challenge Through the audit process, Newcastle University Students’ Union identified creating opportunities for home and international students to make friends and integrate as one of their key priorities. The team secured funding from the university to run the Culture Challenge programme, designed to celebrate the university’s cultural diversity and bring students together in a fun social setting. The programme included a variety of events to encourage social integration between home and international students, including a successful ‘Come Dine with Me’ event to support intercultural communication in halls of residence.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association: 360º Exchange Society As part of their internationalisation work, EUSA set up the 360º Society, to support students before, during and after exchange trips abroad. The society brings together exchange students studying at Edinburgh, and Edinburgh students who have been (or are about to go) on an exchange trip abroad. In addition to organising social activities, the society provides opportunities for students to share information, so that prospective exchange students can learn about their destination. The 360º Exchange Society won ‘Society of the Year’ at the NUS Awards 2011.

University of Nottingham Students’ Union: Supporting student representation at campuses in China and Malaysia The University of Nottingham has overseas campuses in China and Malaysia. While the students’ union does not technically represent the students at these campuses, it offers support and advice to the students’ associations which do. The students’ union officers act as educational consultants to these students’ associations, advising their overseas counterparts via video conferencing and an annual trip to the two overseas campuses. The partnership between students’ representatives at home and overseas is supported by the university, who pay fund the annual overseas trip. This year, the President and the VP Education are due to spend two days each at the Malaysian and Chinese campuses, to meet with university management at each site and to keep a critical eye on facilities. The VP Education will focus on ensuring that the Quality Manual is being adhered to, while the President will meet with the students’ association. They will look at accommodation, student support facilities and campus issues, and advise the students’ association on how to handle problems. On their return, the students’ union officers will report back to the university on their findings. The students’ union also hosts visits from students from the overseas campuses. 52


Key Terms

European Union Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Integration The process of developing activities and processes that enable international and home students to mix on a voluntary basis.

International Student This is any student who comes to the UK for an educational experience. This includes students from both within and outside the European Union (EU).

Students’ Union The term ‘students’ union’ is used in its generic sense, to include ‘guild of students’ or ‘students’ association’. 53


Resources

Internationalisation Resource Hub

National Union of Students (NUS)

www.nusconnect.org.uk/ internationalisation This website contains the facility to complete the audit online, and you will be able to produce an action plan based on your assessment. All NUS internationalisation information and resources can be accessed here, including the Supporting International Students training package and further good practice examples from other unions.

www.nus.org.uk NUS is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students’ unions. Campaigning resources and information on international student matters are available to members at www. nusconnect.co.uk.

Students’ Union Network for Internationalisation (SUNI) http://tiny.cc/hb79w SUNI is a network of students’ union staff and officers working in internationalisation which provides an opportunity for support, advice and best practice sharing.

International Students’ Campaign (ISC) http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/campaigns/ international The International Students’ Campaign is Information from the International Students’ Campaign is available at Students Without Borders (SWB) http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/campaigns/ nations/scotland/withoutborders This is a project run by NUS Scotland which aims increase the engagement of international students in the learning and teaching process, raise awareness of outward mobility opportunities among home students and promote joint working between student associations and their institutions on these issues.

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Other Organisations UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) www.ukcisa.org.uk UKCISA is the UK’s national advisory body serving the interests of international students and those who work with them. It is a source of impartial information, advice and support for students and staff on complex matters such as immigration and fee status. They produce a wide range of publications on topics ranging from volunteering to cross-cultural awareness. European Students’ Union (ESU) www.esu-online.org ESU is an umbrella organisation of 45 National Unions of Students from 38 countries which aims to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at European level. Members are supported through training, campaigns and research.

Higher Education Academy (HEA) www.heacademy.ac.uk The role of the HEA is to enhance learning and teaching practices and student experience in HE. Information about a number of internationalisation initiaivtes can be found at www.heacademy.ac.uk/ internationalisation. International Student Barometer (ISB) www.i-graduate.org This is an independent benchmarking survey of HEIs in the UK. Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) www.ecu.org.uk The ECU supports equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education. It has produced a number of useful reports including Inclusive Students’ Unions, which is available online. British Council www.britishcouncil.org Specialising in cultural exchange, the British Council can assist you in finding opportunities for your students. They also run the ‘Shine!’ awards for international students. UK Border Agency http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk Up to date visa and immigration information can be accessed from UKBA, as well as guidelines for international students who would like to become full time sabbatical officers.

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National Union of Students 4th Floor 184–192 Drummond Street London NW1 3HP t. 0845 5210 262 w. www.nus.org.uk

Internationalisation Toolkit  

Internationalisation Toolkit

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