2019 Sessions A

Wednesday 3 July, 3.15-4.30pm

A1 Outside our comfort zone - activities and resources to impact on international students’ lives in the UK

Category: Student experience

Despite the complexity of student immigration, after a while we can find ourselves comforted by its confines! However, as international student advisers, we also have to tackle various non-immigration dilemmas, such as:

  • How can we help students speak English more often than their native language?
  • How can we connect students in the UK during less busy periods like Christmas?
  • How do we reassure students about safety and wellbeing if they experience instances of hate crime and harassment?
  • How can we equip new international students for future employment challenges after a 1-year postgraduate course?

Come along to learn how we’ve set up an English Conversation Club and Global Lounge and the development of an online safety resource that students can consult during their time at King’s. We’ll also discuss our collaboration with the university’s Careers & Employability team to provide targeted careers support for international students. This session is aimed at staff in HE institutions with a particular interest in coordinating activities and resources for international students.

Presenters:  Alan Shannon-Smith, Specialist International Student Adviser, King's College London; Wenwei Zhou, Specialist International Student Adviser, King’s College London

Alan Shannon-Smith is one of the Specialist International Student Advisers at King’s College London, and has spent over 7 years supporting and advising international students (and often, their families too!) across several London institutions. Initially starting off working in Admissions for a London-based international school, he then moved into HE and into the field of International Student Advice shortly afterwards.

Wenwei Zhou is currently a Specialist International Student Adviser at King’s College London, where she advises international students on immigration as well as works to improve the international student experience. She has over 3 years’ experience of supporting and advising international students on coming to study in the UK – not to mention that she herself experienced the international student journey at University of Bristol a few years ago!

A2 Navigating life in the UK without losing yourself in the process: developing psychological and social capital for Chinese direct entry students

Category: Special interest

We developed and delivered five bespoke workshops to a specific student group, i.e. Chinese Direct Entry (CDE) students, for the development of their psychological and social capital, which are critical resources for successful cross-cultural adaptation.

Based on the literature of acculturative stress and interview data, we will first introduce the learning needs and preferences, and common challenges of CDEs in their life in the UK. Then we will outline our workshop materials and invite delegates to experience some highlighted workshop activities, so that HE professionals may use these to support and enhance CDE’s self-awareness, well-being, resilience, adaptability, and network development.

In addition, we will share in group discussion about challenges of our project implementation, best practices, and provide sustainability recommendations for other institutions.

Presenters:  Crystal Tsay, Senior Lecturer in Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour, University of Greenwich; Jingwen Qu, Research Assistant; University of Greenwich

Dr. Crystal Tsay is a Senior Lecturer at Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour. Crystal received her PhD in Management from the George Washington University, USA. She has been teaching a variety of courses related to Cross Cultural Management, and Human Resource Management. She enjoys teaching, interacting with, and learning from students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Crystal’s research interests include learning and adaptation in cross-cultural contexts, educational gamification, and learning and knowledge sharing in information system project teams. Her research has been published in Computers and Education, Decision Support Systems, Intl. Journal of Services and Standards, and Information, Technology, and People.

Based on the literature of cross-cultural adaptation, Crystal and her project team held a series of workshops for Chinese Direct Entry students to help them develop psychological and social capital, which are critical for the success of adapting into the UK culture and the higher education environment.


A3 Higher education in the hostile environment

Category: General

For much of the last decade a defining feature of immigration policy has been the ‘hostile environment’, an approach which emphasises undesirable aspects of immigration and constructs immigrants as threats and risks, reinforced by a persistent rhetoric of negativity.

This session aims to explore the impacts that the language of the hostile environment has had in higher education.

It will start by presenting the results of a small scale research project which, through interviews with people working in immigration in universities, explored topics such as:

  • Tension between a ‘compliance culture’ and student support.
  • How we talk about students and the impact that can have.
  • Resisting a discourse of hostility and promoting alternative narratives.

There will then be opportunity for group discussion, giving people the chance to reflect upon and share their own experiences of how the hostile environment has impacted on their work, and discuss ways of facing these challenges.

Presenter:  Charlie Braham, Reporting Officer, The University of Sheffield

Charlie worked for five years in immigration-related roles at the University of Sheffield and London School of Economics, issuing CAS and supporting international students. He has also worked as a Student Services Manager at the University of Nottingham. He is currently working in Sheffield in a technical role, and recently completed an MA at UCL's Institute of Education where his dissertation focused on the discourse of the hostile environment in universities.

A4 "My friend", unfriended

Category: General

Students have always used informal sources of visa advice. They get advice from other students, from family members, from the infamous "my friend", and from other well-meaning amateur advisers. As the professional adviser, you can unpick and correct any bad advice, but only if the student eventually comes to you.

But what if they do not come to you? This session looks at some of the reasons why, despite having access to free and regulated immigration advice at their institution, some students seek advice elsewhere.

Specifically, we will look at the next generation of "my friend": online forums and sites such as Quora and Instagram where everyone is your friend. These sites offer opportunities for someone to crowdsource advice, for anyone to be an expert, and to foster a self-care approach which mistrusts facts and expert advice.

Presenter:  Andrew Humphrey, Adviser and Trainer, Freelance

Andrew is a freelance student adviser and trainer who has worked with international students for 30 years.

A5 Working in the UK - considering post graduation immigration routes for international students under the current immigration system and looking ahead to the significant 2021 changes

Category: Immigration

This session will look at post graduation employment options for international students. Post study options are as relevant as part of the student recruitment and retention process as they are in the transitional period at the end of studies.

Emma Brooksbank of Freeths Solicitors will provide succinct and valuable guidance on the options available for students to remain in the UK after their studies. This could be to work for a UK employer or to germinate the seed of an entrepreneurial idea formed during their studies. This will be particularly relevant with the introduction of the new start up and innovator visas. Emma will cover business start up options under Tier 4 and Tier 1 and options for sponsored work under Tier 2.

In 2021 we will see significant changes to the immigration system. Emma will provide insight into the anticipated changes and will consider immigration in a post-Brexit environment.

Presenter:  Emma Brooksbank, Partner, Freeths LLP

Emma Brooksbank is an Immigration Partner and Solicitor

Emma is an immigration specialist, advising and assisting corporate, public sector and private clients in all areas of immigration law, policy making and business strategy. She particularly specialises in acting for higher education clients and has a strong reputation in the university sector. She has been retained as a specialist advisor to the University of Leeds for over seven years and is directly engaged by their central human resources team and at faculties level. She has more recently been engaged by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University. Emma assists and advises on complex Tier 2 matters, provides monthly one to one advice sessions for university employees, delivers regular Brexit update lectures and workshops and provides strategy advice and briefings. She has most recently advised on the impact of a no deal Brexit on the University’s strategy for employing European nationals.

A6 Using ‘WeChat’ as a social media tool to engage Chinese students - an evaluation of the UKCISA funded project

Category: Student experience

This presentation will focus on the further development on the pilot project funded by UKCISA in 2016-17. We have successfully established WeChat as a useful channel to communicate with Chinese students and engage them with study and life at the University of Sheffield, in addition to other University social media platforms.

This presentation will focus on the development which has been implemented in the last two years, including the additional project (‘WeShare’) being conducted via WeChat. It will also outline the collaboration work that has been carried out with other sections at the University. One of the student WeChat editors will share their experiences of using and working on WeChat forum. Challenges of using WeChat will also be discussed with audience.

There will also be an opportunity for audience to take part in an interactive session on WeChat. Audience are encouraged to bring their smart phone/mobile device to attend.

Presenter:  Fang Zheng, International Student Adviser, University of Sheffield

Fang works as an International Student Adviser at the University of Sheffield. Her primary role is to provide immigration advice to International students studying with Tier 4 student visa. She also has a special interest in working with International students in non-immigration areas and providing support for enhancing the international student experience.

A7 The good, the bad and the ugly - a review of the white paper on immigration law

Category: Immigration

This presentation consider the Government's proposed Immigration system post Brexit and other changes to the points based system. It will cover

  • Proposed changes to Tier 2 (General);
  • The new Tier 1 'Start-Up' visa;
  • Other proposed changes to Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Exceptional Promise;
  • The new 12 month visa and potential extension of Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme.

It will be helpful from both an advice and policy perspective.

Presenter:  Lydia Watkinson, Associate Solicitor, Paragon Law

Lydia Watkinson is an Associate Solicitor and Head of the Brexit Group at Paragon Law, a niche Immigration practice based in Nottingham. She has experience in Immigration and Employment Law with a particular focus on the Points Based System. Lydia regularly works with businesses who wish to sponsor Tier 4 (General) students to switch into Tier 2 (General).

Lydia is also a regular speaker, and has given presentations at a number of HEIs, the British Council as well as the UKCISA conference 2018. As Head of the Brexit Group at Paragon Law, Lydia is engaged in strategic planning with businesses in preparation for Brexit.

A8 Using social media effectively to engage with your students

Category: Student experience

Tired of students ignoring your e-mails? Do you know what social medial platforms your students are using? You need to find out and meet them there. The aim of this session is to highlight the need to meet students ‘where they are’.

If your role involves communicating with students and you would like to do this more effectively using social media platforms, then this session is for you.

This presentation and participatory workshop will review the various platforms used at the University of Strathclyde to communicate with students including Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. Participants will have the opportunity to be guided through creating a Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook account while investigating what type of content is of interest and consumed by your target audience for maximum engagement.

Presenter:  Suzanne Faulkner, Teaching Fellow, University of Strathclyde

Suzanne Faulkner is an award winning teaching fellow in Prosthetics and Orthotics, within the department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. With 12 years teaching experience at the National Centre of Prosthetics and Orthotics, Suzanne is passionate about enhancing the student experience by focusing on improving student engagement. With an increasing international cohort of students, she has employed various techniques to enhance communication and engagement with all students. These include using Snapchat as a tutorial tool, using various cloud based student response systems, utilising social media in learning and teaching and playful learning. Suzanne is a facilitator qualified in the Lego Serious Play (LSP) methodology, she is currently undertaking a masters in advance academic studies where she is evaluating the use of LSP to enhance participation of non-native speakers of English in group work activities. She is also undertaking a diploma in digital management.

A9 Compliance: sticky situations and case studies – what tools can we use to navigate these challenges?

Category: Immigration compliance

This is the Immigration Compliance Network (ICN) session.

Whilst those of us employed in Tier 4 compliance spend our time working extremely hard to ensure our institution meets the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and associated guidance, we are also subject to the wider institution working around us and perhaps not keeping compliance fully in their purview. In some cases compliance staff are the last to know about things that are happening (or have happened!!) and we are in the unenviable position of getting our heads around something and needing to action reports or policy that have far-reaching implications.

During this session we will be examining case studies based on real life experiences and helping delegates create an ‘in case of emergency’ resource tool for future use. In the spirit of ICN, this session is a safe space, and therefore we ask that only staff from institutions attend.

Presenters:  Richard Melia, Head of Home Office Compliance, The University of Salford ; Ros Harrison, Tier 4 Compliance Manager, University of Leeds; Naheeda Kauser, Head of the International Student Support & UKVI Compliance Team, University of Bradford

Richard Melia 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.

Ros Harrison is currently responsible for Tier 4 compliance at the University of Leeds. Previously she managed the International Student Advice team at Leeds for 3 years and prior to that was an international student adviser at the University of Manchester for 7 years. Ros also worked for many years on a freelance basis for UKCISA, both on the advice lines and as a trainer on a wide range of courses, both in-house and as part of the UKCISA national programme.

Ros's involvement with international education began when she worked at the British Council, administering scholarships to students under the UK's aid and development programme.

Ros has presented sessions at the UKCISA conference for more years than she cares to remember, most notably in the early days of Tier 4 when she designed and co-presented sessions on balancing the conflicting demands of advice to individual students with the requirements to become and remain compliant as an institution. These sessions proved very popular and led to the formation of the ICN as we know it today. Ros was recently appointed to the national ICN committee as training and events co-ordinator.

Naheeda Kauser is the Visa Support Manager at the University of Bradford and manages the Visa Support team of seven 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.

A10 Chevening Scholarships: an insight into monitoring and evaluating the impact of scholarship programmes

This session has been cancelled.