How ‘Safety’ is moving up the agenda for international students & their families
“The pressure is on UK schools to make their schools as attractive as possible when it comes to projecting a ‘safe’ image”
Maryland lawmakers have approved a bill that will allow Johns Hopkins University to form its own, private police force to enforce the law on campus. Meanwhile, in the UK, over the past three years, universities have paid more than £2 million to 17 police forces in exchange for support.
Spending is rapidly increasing and the University of Northampton now has six fulltime police officers seconded to the University for 3 years, at a cost of £775,000. Safety is increasingly front of mind when students are deciding about overseas study locations. In IDP’s annual survey of almost 3,000 students in the five main overseas study destinations (US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) Canada leads the way in terms of ‘safety’ versus its international rivals, with the UK ranking 4th out of five.
Also, students from China are now reported to be as concerned by the safety of the destination country in which they intend to study as they are the relative academic position of their institution, according to the latest report from the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association.
However, University students still find the allure of UK’s big cities hard to resist and for the second year running, London has been voted the top global study city by QS.
When it comes to parental decision making regarding boarding school choices though, the pressure is really on UK schools to make their schools as attractive as possible when it comes to projecting a ‘safe’ image to overseas families.
School location & school safety practices
At UK Education Guide many parents are now asking us for schools near a small town, rather than near, or in, a big city. However, there is a balance to be had: as can be seen from the QS survey (above) college students still see the attractiveness of studying in London and other large international cities, so preparing young people to make the transition from a rural school to an urban university is one that needs careful consideration.
Also, there is the issue, which we have also experienced, of teenage pupils getting frustrated by the lack of freedom and opportunities to explore major cities if schools are located in remote, rural locations.
University students still find the allure of the UK’s big cities hard to resist
Kings Colleges has four city college locations and Anna Trott points out the challenges in getting the balance right between security and the opportunity to explore and enjoy UK city life.
“Security features at all schools include; all students wear an ID card, there is CCTV at boarding houses and swipe cards for entrance to both buildings and bedrooms, but we are also keen to help our students safely explore the cities where our colleges are located, as we see this as an important part of their personal development,” she says.
School safety measures encompass acceptable use policies and blocking systems on schools’ internet servers. But, as Caroline Nixon, General Secretary of BAISIS (British Association of Independent Schools with International students) points out, “all technology can be got around by the determined teenager so smart schools focus on teaching students how to keep themselves safe online-not disclosing certain information and being aware of how to safeguard themselves and their peers.”
This approach also needs to be backed up by Guardians who take care of under 18’s when they are not on school premises.
These responsibilities go beyond physical safety, as Julia Evans, director of AEGIS registered Cambridge Guardian Angels points out, “of course, our E-safety training requires all host families to install appropriate parental control software on their routers but arguably more importantly host families also receive training to recognise cyberbullying.”
A final word to Paul Telford whose company, Student Safety UK helps families and institutions prepare young overseas students coming to the UK; “it’s that added factor- being ‘street smart’, that many international students struggle to understand,” he says.
“We advise on the principle that ‘integration, not isolation’ is key-basically, don’t stand out-we also stress that the UK is still a very peaceful country, by any international comparison, but being aware of your surroundings at all times is really important to stay safe.”
Other credits: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/planning/advice-support
About the author: Pat Moores is director and co-founder of UK Education Guide.