The winners of the 2016 NUS Internationalisation Awards have been announced. Mostafa Rajaai, International Students’ Officer at NUS presented winners and highly commended institutions with trophies and certificates.
Internationalised Students’ Union of the Year
Winner: Lancaster University Students’ Union
"LUSU’s internationalisation activities are focused around the aims of encouraging students to travel overseas to realize the benefits of Lancaster’s international partnerships and to support students to fully engage with the range of student communities and cultures on campus through our The World at Lancaster (TWAL) campaign. All of these activities are designed to meet our objective of enabling Lancaster students to graduate as global citizens, with a broad cultural awareness and engagement with international issues.
"To reduce barriers to participation, we have been working with Lancaster’s Researching Equity, Access and Participation team to ensure that our opportunities are accessible to students from widening participation backgrounds. We want to ensure that the students who have the most to gain from fully connecting with the diversity of the Lancaster student body are able to access these opportunities."
Highly Commended: Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union (FXU)
Highly commended for their work to enhance the international student experience:
- The Students’ Union played a fundamental role in the implementation of an International Student Experience Group
- For the first time, the student union has been heavily involved in the international student pick up service from Heathrow airport
- A new document ‘International Arrivals Guide’ has been produced by FXU to be distributed to all international students
- Increased cultural awareness as a result of international events on campus, international dishes served in the eating outlets on campus and more opportunities to learn a new language
The Students’ Union at UWE
Liverpool Students’ Union
Union of UEA Students
International Student Advisor of the Year
Winner: Eva Donoghue, University of Bath Students' Union
“As a result of her outstanding commitment this year, Eva has successfully secured over £7,000 in funding from the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Internationalisation), which has been used to further develop cultural activity on campus. Notably, this funding was used to further develop festivities such as Holi Hai, the Hindu festival of colours, and Africa Day, which both saw over 300 students from various international communities actively take part in the celebrations.
This year, I have taken an Officer lead on the University of Bath Students’ Union campaign around the improvement of Muslim prayer facilities on campus, which have been in an unacceptable state for the past 10 years. Eva has led the staff support on this campaign and through her strong links with the University’s senior management team, and her commitment to ensuring that these facilities meet the standard the students deserve, she was able to help us secure a further £20,000+ in funding to refurbish the facilities.”
Highly commended: Kate Williams, University of Wolverhampton
“Most people within the UKCISA network will have met Kate Williams at one stage or another, either in person at one of the many events she has attended, or through the UKCISA forums on which she plays an active role in trying to share experience and knowledge. Kate has provided international visa advice at the University of Wolverhampton since June 2007. She’s been the backbone of the team throughout this period, including the many occasions when she was the sole member of the team!”
Neil Bullet, INTO University of East Anglia
Eleanor Drinkall, Bexhill 6th Form College
Best Careers Support for International Students
Winner: University of Birmingham Careers Network
Careers Network (CN) at the University of Birmingham (UoB) employs an International Careers Consultant (ICC) working exclusively for international students. This support has developed over the last 5 years as outlined below and has benefitted our international students in many ways:
- General impact: We are ranked 1st in the Russell Group (RG) for “Advice and guidance on long term job opportunities and careers from academic staff”
- Employer liaison: An 85% increase in international student attendance at Careers fairs from 2014-15 to 2015
- International Internships: The Global Challenge Internship Programme offers internships in top global organisations including the British Consulate in Chicago, Museum Victoria in Melbourne and in GSK in North Africa.
- Social media profile: Recruited a Social Media International Student Ambassador. Enhanced social media presence, greater reach and subsequent service use
- Mentoring: Our Hong Kong Mentoring Programme, is designed for students from their second year, who would like to work in Hong Kong after graduation, supported by an alumnus keen to help students remain in contact with their home through the help of professional mentors.
- Worklink: Our Worklink service finds students part time jobs on campus.
Innovation in Internationalising the Student Experience
Winner: Nottingham Trent University
“The development of the Lounges at our City and Clifton campuses demonstrate best practice and innovation through their comprehensive approach to engaging home and international students. The Lounges were established in 2013 as multi-functional hubs serving exchange students, international students, UK students, and NTU staff.
“One student described the Global Lounge through our “Have You Say” survey: “An asset to NTU, because of the diversity the students bring during their time at university.”
“The Lounges are also places for UK students to be inspired to go abroad as they have resource centres where students can find information on international exchange opportunities and funding, and meet students who have studied/worked/volunteered abroad.
“The Lounges employ students from different regions of the world as Global Lounge Assistants (GLAs). The GLAs provide a friendly face for students using the Lounge and are responsible for introducing students to one another during events to promote an international community.
“We also employ a student placement, usually an international student, as Assistant Manager of the City Lounge to focus on engaging students. The GLAs and student placement posts also give international students an opportunity to gain some work experience.”
Highly commended: Union of UEA Students
“Welcome Fest (fresher week) was the most diverse we have ever offered this year and a great welcome to all of our new international. We had a dedicated two-week programme for new arriving international students, including city tours, boat trips and separate reception nights for UG & PG international students in Norwich Football Stadium.
“With large scale migration taking place across Europe following middle eastern unrest the SU recognised the need to support those now caught in a difficult situation in continental Europe, particularly in Calais. During the welcome period a new group of volunteers was formed who collected donations from students and the local community. Volunteers later took the donations to those most in need during the winter months.”
Sheffield Hallam Students' Union
Liverpool Hope Students’ Union
Lancaster University Students’ Union
Excellence in International Student Support in HE
Winner: Nottingham Trent University
“NTU’s Global Lounges were established in 2013 as focal points for our diverse range of international activities and opportunities. The Lounges are unique multi-functional hubs providing international students with personal and social support. It is a unique events space which hosts a variety of workshops and social gatherings to provide numerous opportunities for our students to share their cultures and meet other students from around the world. Staff-led sessions are held with various support departments from within the university to inform students of the resources available to them. The Lounges also provide a safe and comfortable space for international students to relax between/after classes.
"Every Thursday we hold an International Community Lunch, a social event where students have an opportunity to socialise with other students from around the world. Our events change to reflect the needs of our students and we plan them as a direct response to student feedback.
"International students tell us this opportunity to share their cultures with the support of the Global Lounge and SU makes them feel welcomed and valued. One student expressed their opinion through our “Have You Say” survey which is open year round for students feedback:
“The Global Lounge is an enrichment to the experience of Uni, bringing with it a Global Integration of people, communities, countries and the world! That’s fairly reflected in what Global Lounge offers in its services, provision and staff representation.”
Highly Commended: International students’ arrival & welcome programme, University of Sussex
“First impressions are vitally important, and impact on whether a student feels welcome, integrated and oriented but our International Student Barometer (ISB) results had indicated that we could be doing better.
“Following a review, we concluded that additional resourcing was needed for this essential aspect of our service. The newly designed programme incorporates:
- An expanded and carefully selected team of student helpers who undergo robust training, focussing on making new international students feel welcomed.
- An expanded and improved airport meet and greet service, with additional (free) coaches. In the ISB, satisfaction levels have increased from 78% in 2012 to 92% in autumn 2015.
- An online, interactive induction module which reduces the number of in-person talks that new students are required to attend and ensures that late arrivers don’t miss out on key information.
- A re-designed ‘Getting Started Guide’ for international students
- A revamped programme of focussed talks, including a popular ‘Ask our Student Panel’
- A schedule of trips focussing on the needs of new students (including a coach trip to IKEA). A high profile welcome reception at the prestigious Brighton Dome. The Mayor of Brighton & Hove attends to give a formal welcome to the city.
- Close collaboration with the Students’ Union, particularly to promote their highly-successful Buddy Scheme.
“All new international students were then invited to complete the autumn 2015 ISB with results showing a dramatic improvement since we had participated in 2012: 96% said they were satisfied with the arrival experience (compared with 87% in 2012), 7% higher than the UK average. We ranked 1st not only amongst the 49 participating UK institutions but also out of the total 159 institutions from 18 countries worldwide!”
International Student Advice and the Student Union at Plymouth University
Excellence in International Student Support in FE
Winner: City of Glasgow College
“International students’ first physical contact with the college is with the International Office who ensure that all students meet all the necessary criteria for full compliance. Once they settle and have met lecturers and other classmates, there are Meet & Greet sessions delivered where they are introduced to the Students’ Association, Student Engagement, Student advisors and again, with the International Office to give an introduction to the available services and opportunities.
“The opportunities that international students are able to engage with at COGC range from; taking part in the weekly sports, clubs and societies ran by the Students’ Association; exploring Scotland and engaging in new experiences with the Engagement Team’s monthly outings; as well as being a represented voice through the 14 international students who are class reps taking part in the college’s “Finger on the Pulse” feedback system that ensures that student opinion is a component of students shaping the direction of their learning.
"The Students’ Association have 2 voluntary international officers (mentored by the International Student Engagement Officer) who are prominent figures within the international student society, relaying information from NUS and CitySA. Their innovation fuels positive change generated by the students.”
Highly commended: INTO, University of East Anglia
“INTOUEA are committed to supporting international students on campus to ensure they have an outstanding and engaging experience. Our dedicated Student Services team assist students throughout their time with us, from arranging an airport pick-up on their very first day right through to helping students extend their visa as they progress onto their next course within the UK.
“At INTOUEA we are committed to helping students integrate into UK life, particularly on the main university campus. An orientation programme on arrival includes campus and city tours, ice-breakers and social events to help students make new friends, and we provide a social programme with weekend excursions throughout the year.
“Since the inception of INTOUEA 10 years ago, the number of international students at UEA has more than doubled, helping to internationalise the campus and the wider community. Our Student Services team promote community events and encourage students to volunteer and engage with the local community.
“We are delighted to share that last year 95% of our students were satisfied with the support they received at INTOUEA. Our Student Services team encourage holistic personal development that dovetails with students’ studies and academic success in a supportive and caring learning community.”