Category: Internationalisation

Dealing with overseas classrooms and a cauldron of cultures

“With a smorgasbord of cultures, the task of teaching a room of students from around the world requires extra steps”

Teaching the next generation can be a tricky proposition in any situation, no two students are exactly alike and techniques that work well in one classroom may fall flat in another.

For the most part, though, you know roughly what you’re trying to achieve and have designed a roadmap to reach the end. But what about truly diverse classrooms?  Travelling around the world as an international educator is immensely rewarding but also presents unique challenges, how exactly should you deal with a classroom in a different country containing a mix of students?

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Are we on course for a global homogenisation of higher education?

“Students have different educational outcomes in mind, depending on where they come from and study”

Student aspirations and course expectations are more internationally diverse than you might think.

In fact, the reasons students are in higher education and the employability skills they think they will need on leaving are wide-ranging – according to the results of our Student Voices survey we conducted in collaboration with research consultancy Shift Learning.

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Will UK student visas have to change post-Brexit?

“When change finally does occur, what form is the new landscape for EU students likely to take?”

The recognition of education as an economic purpose by the founding fathers of the European Economic Community led to freedom of movement for students of EU and later EEA states plus Switzerland.

This has changed the face of higher education across the Continent, facilitating cross-fertilisation of ideas and consequent innovation across a mobile student and academic population. It is undoubtedly a shining achievement of post-WW2 European politics, and the UK’s great universities have been at the heart of many major developments in learning.
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Top tips on how to recruit fully funded students

“If you know of organisations in your market that fund students then get in touch with them, but make sure you have something to offer”

Students who are fully funded by external organisations such as governments agencies or private companies are the gold dust that every international officer or student recruiter is looking for.

Funding overseas study is expensive; there is no question about it. Between tuition fees and living costs to study in the UK alone, the costs can vary between anything from £20,000 to £35,000 or more. Here are some tips on how to find that gold dust for your institution.
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How Swansea University remains internationally ambitious in challenging times

“Internationalisation via strategic partnerships will allow us to extend our global reach whatever the outcome of Brexit”

Since our foundation in 1920, Swansea University has embraced opportunities to think globally, growing and maintaining partnerships that enhance and support our research, teaching and student recruitment ambitions. But to say that universities are operating in uncertain times is no less true for being a cliché.

The numbers of international students entering the UK have been flatlining since 2012 when the government removed the two- year post-study work visa, followed by further changes in 2015, as the government began cutting immigration targets and tightening up rules in a number of areas, including academic progression and savings. At the same time, competition has got tougher as the market has grown in the USA, Canada and Australia, and HEIs in parts of Europe like the Netherlands and Germany have begun teaching courses through the medium of English.
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The benefit of ‘joined up’ thinking when teaching EAL

“EAL departments need to be seen less as stand-alone departments and more as departments encompassing and integrating all aspects of a school’s academic life”

 It seems common sense, but how often in schools and colleges across the country is EAL development held back due to a lack of communication between EAL teachers and their colleagues teaching other subjects?

As Pete Collier, Head of EAL at Kings College St Michael’s says, “if a student is performing a science practical it seems logical that in the preceding (EAL) support lesson they should receive vocabulary related to common laboratory equipment. Although a seemingly simple and obvious philosophy the lack of communication between departments often causes this approach to be neglected”.
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The Elevator Pitch: Why every international student (and professional) should craft one

“Your elevator pitch can be your answer when someone asks, “How do you plan on adjusting to a foreign company’s work culture?”

Whether applying to a company for an internship or a first job, an elevator pitch is that company’s first impression of your ability to fill a space in that organisation. This can even happen when visiting representatives at a college’s career fair or when answering the infamous first question, “Tell us about yourself.”

What is an elevator pitch? 

An elevator pitch, also known as an elevator speech, got its name from the amount of time you may spend with another individual in an elevator. On average, elevator rides last about 30 seconds or less. With your elevator pitch, you have that long to persuade someone before one of you walks off the elevator.
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The benefits of studying the International Baccalaureate

“What has inspired me the most about the IB is its ability to encourage students to become internationally minded”

As students start to plan their future, choosing the right upper school curriculum is often a difficult decision to make. Faced with so many options, from A-levels to the International Baccalaureate (IB) or even the American Advanced Placement (AP) or high school diploma, the question is which one is the best fit for their abilities? And which one will more likely lead to a good degree?

I wish there was a simple answer, but it just depends on what type of student they are. Whether a good all-rounder who enjoys studying a wide range of subjects and rises to the challenge of investigative projects and exams like in the IB, or perhaps they are a more analytical mindset who prefers time to ponder their work with a curriculum focused on fewer subjects and graded more equally on coursework and exams like some A levels and the AP or whether no exams at all like the high school diploma.

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Switzerland’s tradition of learning: “a point of reference on the global stage”

“All too often, graduates of traditional academic degrees feel that their studies have left them unprepared for the workplace”

For the eighth year in a row, Switzerland has been ranked the world’s most innovative country by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. It is a country famed for its economic health and political stability.

Some may be surprised, then, to learn that less than a third of Swiss people under the age of 25 enter traditional academic higher education, or what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development calls “tertiary-type A” education – theory-based programs lasting at least three years.

It’s not that Switzerland doesn’t value education. Quite the contrary: Switzerland has long recognised the importance of providing a range of educational pathways for different needs and objectives. Apprenticeships and vocational training play a key role in the country’s education system, with approximately 70% of young Swiss people participating in these programs either before or instead of attending university.

Vocational education gives teens the opportunity to combine classroom learning with entry-level responsibilities in the workplace, preparing them for careers in technology, services and health as well as traditional trades and crafts. It enables students to develop the skills they want and the skills employers need. As a result, youth unemployment in Switzerland is among the lowest in the world (8.1%, compared to the OECD total of 11.9%), and the Swiss educational model has become a point of reference on the global stage.

The Swiss tradition of learning by doing has also shaped the nation’s higher education landscape. Switzerland excels in research, with the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (EPFL and ETH Zurich) ranked as among the best engineering and technology universities worldwide. In addition to academic universities, the country offers a number of universities of applied sciences specialising in practice-oriented bachelor’s and master’s degrees, where apprentices who hold a Federal Vocational Education and Training (VET) Diploma or Federal Vocational Baccalaureate may qualify for admission. These industry-specific programmes enable graduates to make a smooth transition from studies to their career.

“We have found that this dual approach is key to ensuring that students can apply their classroom learning to real-world contexts”

In the area of hospitality management, for example, four out of the world’s top ten institutions are based in Switzerland. At both Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, the Swiss model of combining practical and academic learning forms the backbone of the curriculum. Bachelor’s degree students are immersed in hospitality operations, such as guest service, culinary studies and housekeeping, as well as business theory, such as finance, entrepreneurship and luxury branding.

This experience enables them to develop professionalism, communication, adaptability and other essential soft skills as well as business management expertise. In addition, students are required to complete two internship semesters and are encouraged to work and study abroad to further enhance their employability.

We have found that this dual approach is key to ensuring that students can apply their classroom learning to real-world contexts. Specialist programmes that maintain close ties with the industry are better equipped to prepare students with the necessary skills for their chosen profession. It’s an educational experience that is valued by students and companies alike: in the 2018 QS World University Rankings, Glion and Les Roches rank first and third respectively for employer reputation among hospitality management institutions worldwide.

“Youth unemployment in Switzerland is among the lowest in the world “

All too often, graduates of traditional academic degrees feel that their studies have left them unprepared for the workplace. The Swiss model of blended theoretical and practical learning has become increasingly attractive not only in Switzerland but around the world. Today, Glion offers its curriculum through a branch campus in London, UK, while Les Roches also has campuses in Marbella, Spain and Shanghai, China. For career-focused students, the integration of vocational and academic education offers a compelling alternative.

About the author: Dr Pierre Ihmle is Chief Academic Officer of Sommet Education, the hospitality education group that includes Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education

 

 

 

How technology is helping to educate Syrian refugees

“Articulating your level of education is tricky if you move country, let alone if you haven’t brought proof of learning”

Fiona Reay, head of Client Services at FutureLearn, recently travelled to Lebanon to see the impact of technology at schools educating Syrian refugees as part of the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access project, which has five years’ funding through the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform initiative. Here, Reay discusses what she learned during the visit and some of the challenges that are yet to be overcome.

I saw first-hand the innovative delivery of education in Lebanese communities from the American University of Beirut and listened to Syrian students and teachers about the impact of the PADILEIA project at the GHATA schools in the Bekka Valley.

Picture2I was very impressed at the rapid pace that new schools have been rolled out in the Bekka region to accommodate 1.5 million Syrian refugees who’ve arrived in Lebanon; not only the infrastructure which has been put in place but the care which has gone into the meal planning and the welcoming environment from the teaching and support staff.

These schools are happy places with enthusiastic teachers and grateful children and teenagers, a space of ‘normality’ compared to day-to-day life in camps or other temporary accommodation, and a chance for young people to be with their friends and have routine back in their lives.
But there are several challenges to gaining an education when being displaced. While I experienced a positive and inclusive environment, there are still hurdles to overcome.

  • Articulating your level of education is tricky if you move country, let alone if you haven’t brought proof of learning. The Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese certification levels don’t all align, and I heard examples of students travelling back into Syria to sit the exams needed to move onto the next level of study.
  • Stipends are often required to pay for travel costs and study expenses for Syrian and other disadvantaged youth. At the World Food Program school teachers reward participation with digital card ‘points’ that can be used in neighbourhood shops (much like vouchers), and this also helps stimulate the local Lebanese economy.
  • Funding and scholarship application forms can be daunting for most and understanding the nuances of “pitching yourself” requires guidance from people who have done it before. Learning how to answer what extracurricular activities you do, and the value you can add to your community (when you’ve had to relocate due to civil war) can feel even more of a stretch. The PADILEIA students have found it really valuable to learn from mentors who can support them through this process and help them fill in the forms.

Picture1I also witnessed a strong appetite for digital skills and discussion. PADILEIA’s aim is to increase critical-thinking skills so young people can prepare for higher education and consider wider career options like science, law, journalism, or IT.

The first year of the project has a focus on mixing practical digital skills with learning English, as part of a Foundation Certificate to build readiness for further education. These transferable skills build the confidence of young people.

“I was overwhelmed by the confidence and brightness of young women keen to practice with native English speakers and to show off their Adobe Photoshop exam progress”

Students also learn Microsoft and Google Drive programs, as well as AutoCAD software for potential engineering and architecture pathways in the future.

There also exists a supported and blended approach to online learning. A lot of mentoring is required around goal setting, and coaching on time management is constantly needed –  these are teenagers with homework after all!

Passionate teacher Mahmoud Shabaan, Students Service Coordinator at the GHATA School, provides mentorship support seven days a week, uses WhatsApp and Facebook groups to connect students after hours.

The school also invites Syrian scholarship awardees at the American University of Beirut to deliver “do your homework pep talks” to keep students motivated, and they plan to use graduates of the PADILEIA program to help train and support the next cohort of students.

Houssam, who has just completed his Foundation Certificate from the American University of Beirut (AUB), delivered an inspirational speech to the PADILEIA visitors, explaining the benefits he was seeing from studying with mentors and the goals he has for the future, including scholarships for higher education.

The teachers in Bekka also explained that using online resources to date has been a challenge, due to the students’ level of English but also connection issues and that they’re aiming to use more online tools in the classroom as their experience with using technology for learning increases.

It will be interesting to see how young people and their educators will embrace online and social learning.

Picture3To help with this, new online free basic English courses designed for the Middle East have been developed. Two new courses teaching Basic English from King’s College London, at elementary and pre-intermediate levels, have been specially created for Middle Eastern learners.

The short courses tell the stories of local characters Samir, Maya and Amena who learn practical phrases and hear from British voices. They include Arabic transcripts and are prepared for students learning in an environment with power cuts and slower wifi, meaning a stronger focus on audio (rather than video) and low bandwidth optimised files.

Online facilitators from King’s College London have been specially trained to help support Middle Eastern learners. The King’s College London courses are available on FutureLearn.com with free continued access for all, funded by the PADILEIA program.