Friday 5 July, 9.45-10.45am
F1 Are you OK? Mental health and wellbeing of international doctoral students in the UK: an investigation of supervisors’ understanding and existing support provision
This presentation reports on a research project, funded by UKCISA, to investigate how well supervisors understand the mental health and wellbeing of international doctoral students, and what support supervisors can provide given the seemingly poor levels of psychological wellbeing experienced by this group of students. Up to 30 doctoral supervisors from UK HEI institutions who have supervised at least two international doctoral students to completion were recruited. The supervisors were interviewed via telephone or skype to address the following research questions:
- 1. What is the level of understanding about mental health/wellbeing issues of international doctoral students amongst UK-based supervisors?
- 2. To what extent are UK-based supervisors equipped to respond appropriately to these mental health/wellbeing needs?
- 3. What additional support or resources would supervisors benefit from to be better able to support international doctoral students’ needs?
We will present the findings of the study and implications for future practice and policy.
Presenters: Chris Blackmore, Senior University Teacher, University of Sheffield; Dely Elliott, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow
Dr Chris Blackmore, Senior University Teacher, University of Sheffield – has health and wellbeing as his primary area of interest and research expertise. Chris works in the Mental Health Research Unit, School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). Chris has a particular interest in narratives and mental health, and has led a number of projects in this area, with an increasing focus on student mental health. (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr/sections/hsr/mhru/staff/blackmore_c)
Dr Dely Elliot, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow – has led two research projects funded by the Adam Smith Research Foundation and the Economic and Social Research Council IAA on the academic acculturation and doctoral experience of international students. Dely has widely published and presented at national and international conferences on this subject. (https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/education/staff/delyelliot/)
F2 Innovating student ambassador schemes
Category: Student experience
The International Student Ambassador Scheme was set up at the University of Portsmouth in 2015 and has grown from strength to strength ever since.
Our ambassadors run activities under three 'umbrellas': Marketing, Recruitment and Student Experience. These include social media campaigns, focus groups, Instagram takeovers, photo shoots, "pop-ups" on campus (such as Random Act of Kindness Day), hosting tours for applicants, supporting large events like Global Week, and delivering their own social evenings with quizzes and karaoke. Ambassadors can also now be ‘hired’ out to our academic faculties. All of these activities benefit community cohesion.
This session will give you an overview of how the scheme started, and how we’ve built it in to what it is today. We’ll share with you the challenges we’ve faced and how we overcame them, our top tips for launching a similar scheme and our insight in how to be innovative and how to keep the scheme fresh, particularly when budgets are tight!
Presenters: Anna Vaernes, International Student Adviser, University of Portsmouth; Kim Hadley, Global Engagement Projects Officer, University of Portsmouth
Anna Vaernes has worked as an International Student Adviser since 2014 and in international higher education since 2012. Anna created and delivered the International Student Ambassador Scheme in 2015.
Kim Hadley is Global Engagement Project Officer. Kim has been with the international team at Portsmouth for 18 years in several guises. Her current role has her managing the International Student Ambassador Scheme and organising our international summer schools.
F3 Safety, security and wellbeing of international students
Category: Student experience
If the the drivers of student mobility include safety, affordability, graduate employment opportunities, student visa policies, and quality of education - what are we doing to put forward positive messages on safety, security and wellbeing?
Education sector experts predict international numbers are set to grow further.
The British Council and colleagues from the sector discuss their experiences and offer ideas and support for international students and agents as the numbers grow.
Presenters: Helen Clews, Adviser - External Relations (Visas), British Council
Helen Clews is the Adviser - External Relations (Visas), Education and Society at the British Council.
Helen’s role is to develop and manage relationships with external bodies such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, UK Visas & Immigration, UK Council for International Affairs, Department for Education, Education Institutions and within the British Council in regard to visa, immigration, welfare and support issues affecting international students. Helen continues to manage and combine her roles and experience to work on international student safety forums and initiatives such as the publications Creating Confidence and Safety First - a personal safety guide for international students and Creating Confidence – International Student Safety Surveys.
Helen represents the British Council at the Education Sector Forum chaired by the Home Office and is a member of the ProtectED Advisory Board. She also holds an SIA licence and recently completed a Mental Health First Aid course in the workplace.
F4 Creating a culture of compliance across an institution: benefits & challenges using case studies
Category: Immigration compliance
Compliance is the responsibility of all staff working with international students but it sometimes feels like it is the team with ‘compliance’ or ‘visa’ in their title that are perceived to be responsible. How do we ensure that we get our other colleagues on board?
Case study 1 will look at institutions where Tier 4 compliance and HR services have come together to create a joined-up approach to compliance and the long term benefits that this has had.
Case study 2 will look at working closely with staff based in Recruitment, Marketing and Admissions to ensure compliance amongst agents and potential students, as well as the challenge of engaging with academics and other support services.
The session will also give delegates the opportunity to think about their own institutions and how they can identify potential ‘partners’ to work with to help fashion a ‘culture of compliance’ amongst all staff.
Presenters: Richard Melia, Head of Home Office Compliance, The University of Salford; Naheeda Kauser, Head of the International Student Support & UKVI Compliance Team, University of Bradford
Richard has worked as the Head of Home Compliance at the University of Salford since July 2016, being responsible for a team of nine compliance and visa support officers, as well as designing and managing the University’s policies and processes relating to Tier 4 students and right to study. Prior to this he was the Senior Immigration Adviser at the University of Central Lancashire (between March 2009 and June 2016), where he designed and implemented many of the systems used by UCLan to monitor and engage with Tier 4 students, following a stint as a Welfare and Immigration Adviser at the University of Huddersfield between October 2006 and February 2009.
Richard has served as Chair of the Association of International Student Advisers (AISA) and is currently an executive member of the Immigration Compliance Network (ICN), undertaking the role of Treasurer.
Naheeda is the Head of the International Student Support & UKVI Compliance Team at the University of Bradford and manages a team of staff responsible for all aspects of the international student experience – welcome, orientation, visa advice, welfare and pastoral support throughout the student journey and Tier 4 compliance. She has over 11 years’ experience in student support and Tier 4 compliance.
Prior to joining University of Bradford she worked in the voluntary sector managing staff who gave advice on welfare benefits, debt, housing and employment law. She also has several years’ experience of advocacy and representation (up to OISC level 3) in all areas of immigration and nationality law under a legal aid franchise. The latter involved regular audits by the Legal Aid Board of the quality of advice as well as policies, procedures in relation to client care, key dates, training and CPD, supervision, independent file reviews, referrals and conflict of interest.
Naheeda has been on the AISA Executive Committee for six years as the training and regional lead and is currently serving as the co-Chair of the ICN Executive Committee.
F5 Start-up and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route – a journey to success
Category: General interest
Newcastle University has been an endorsing body for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa since its introduction back in 2013, and more recently as an endorsing body for the new Start-up route.
This session will focus on the endorsement process at Newcastle University, and the range of support offered to students and graduates to achieve their goals of setting up a business in the UK.
It will showcase how the University’s Careers Service and Visa Support Team work together to provide students and graduates seamless support through the endorsement process and beyond.
It will also feature the success and progress which have been achieved by graduates who have been endorsed by the university.
Presenters: Hena Mookerji, Visa Support Team Leader, Newcastle University; Gretel Dixon, Start - up Adviser, Newcastle University
Hena Mookerji is a Visa Adviser at Newcastle University with over 10 years’ experience of working within the both the further and higher education sector. Operational duties include providing visa advice to staff and students, organising visa information workshops, and overseeing the year round operations of the visa support services provided to international students. Hena leads on the support provided to international students for work after studies and works closely with colleagues from the Careers Service in providing guidance and support on the relevant work related visas.
Gretel Dixon: A former International Student herself, Gretel arrived in the UK in 2013 to study an MBA at Newcastle University. After graduating in 2014, she secured a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa with endorsement from the university and started an IT business.
Gretel joined Newcastle University’s START UP Team in 2016 as Start-up Adviser. In her role, she supports students and graduates looking to explore their business ideas at early stages. As well as providing one-to-one coaching and advice, Gretel co-creates and delivers extracurricular workshops and events that inspire innovative business ideas, challenge students to think creatively, and foster entrepreneurial networks.
Gretel works in close collaboration with the University’s Visa Team to promote the T1GE visa /Start-up route and provide specific support to International students throughout their journey from idea to successful business in the UK.
F6 Supporting placements
An increasing number of international students are now opting to take a work placement as part of their studies.
Work placements give students the opportunity to gain skills specific to their subject or industry of choice, and also give them the employability skills required for real-life work. However they can be problematic for both the student and the education institution; from trying to securing a placement to reporting and monitoring.
This will be an interactive session aimed at sharing best practice. We will look at ways we can we support students to prepare for placement, monitor and report in accordance with our Tier 4 sponsorship duties. The session will also explore what options are available when a student is unable to secure a placement.
Presenter: Christina Peters, Head of International Student Support & Tier 4 Compliance, University of Hertfordshire
Christina has gained over 20 years’ experience in international student support and student immigration. Since 2004 she has been working at the University of Hertfordshire and is currently the Head of International Student Support & Tier 4 Compliance.
F7 "Wow I didn't realise there was so much hostility at Keele". Mapping the experiences of hate crime and online harassment within HE
Category: Special interest | Students' unions
This session aims to inform participants about the work KeeleSU and Keele University has been carrying out to tackle hate crime and online harassment.
The session will look at definitions of hate crime and hate incidents. It will describe the research methods used and the main findings of the research project and will share the campaign materials developed to support the project. Participants will learn about barriers to reporting and reporting mechanisms. The session will also cover the main recommendations which have come out of the research and the next steps KeeleSU are taking to tackle hate crime.
Presenter: Fay Harris, Head of Membership Services & Interim CEO, Keele SU
Fay works as the Head of Membership Services at Keele Students' Union. She is responsible for a student advice service, jobshop, volunteering, society and sport support and Student Voice. Previous research projects led by Fay have also included student finance, debt and loan sharks, a research project investigating the experience of international students at Keele University and more recently on tackling hate crime and online harassment.
A member of the senior leadership team at KeeleSU, Fay is responsible for the strategic development, budgets, staffing and the line management of teams delivering diverse services within KeeleSU.
Fay co-authored 'Investigation of International Students' Perception of 'Community' in a British Higher Education Institute'. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice Vol 3, No 3 2015.