While our UKCISA members are finalising orientation and welcome week plans, we spoke to colleagues about using short stays with families to support, and promote, international student experience in their universities.
Polly Penter, International Student Advice Manager, City, University of London said:
“For me I think one of the key things about offering international students different cultural experiences is soft power and reputation building.
“If just one student takes part in a visit, experiences a different part of the UK to where they’re studying, and has a great time, they’ll go home saying positive things about our institution and the UK.”
There are a number of options for colleagues in universities to offer short stays with local families. One of the most long-standing organisations is HOST.
HOST operates as a membership organisation. Universities subscribe for a fee, which could be as little as £150 depending on the number of international students at the institution. Students register on an individual basis on the HOST website if they want to take part in visits, submitting the dates they can attend. Using an organisation like HOST means that you can offer weekend and day visits to all over the UK to your students without needing to organise them.
Polly has used HOST to run events for international students for many years and recently became a Trustee of their Board. She added:
“For a small fee you can offer a unique cultural experience to students, and you can also mention these experiences in marketing materials and at events abroad to promote your institution to prospective students.”
As part of the membership fee HOST will run free events at your orientation or welcome weeks, offering tea parties where students can meet hosts of trips to find out more. They’ll also provide you with lots of free materials that you can hand to students.
Sign up before September to get HOST to attend your orientation events and offer a tea party with international students, showing them the kinds of short stays they can take part in through your institution.
Find out more at www.hostuk.org/academic-institutions