This blog has been written by Kirsty Brock (@Doc_KBrock), the project lead for the project ‘The development of a pre-registration online module to facilitate the transition of Chinese Masters students to the English educational system.’ In this short blog, Kirsty reflects on some of the challenges international student communities have faced due to COVID-19.
When I first proposed this project, it was with the idea of supporting students studying in country. With an increasing move towards a blended approach and the ongoing development of online only degrees, we have both opportunity and challenge when it comes to supporting our international students and building a new global community. This has led to me questioning what will our student community look like in the future and how will we create a great educational experience for all students?
For many of our international postgraduate students it is a challenging transition to the English educational system. For some countries (particularly those in the East), students have had a very different undergraduate education to those educated in the UK. The style of teaching and assessment often differs greatly from what the students experience when they arrive with us and this is without considering the challenges of adjusting to a new culture. Early results from this project indicate that international students lack confidence in the study skills required at postgraduate level on entry to the programme, and that their confidence generally does not improve across the course of the year despite bespoke international support programmes. With a move to more online learning, this is a problem we urgently need to address.
I mentioned before that the new blended approach to learning and the increased availability of online degrees presented both opportunity and challenge. Certainly, we have the opportunity to increase our global student population with students able to access an Exeter education from their home countries. These students will be able to reduce the expenses of living away from home, benefit from retaining their own support networks and even reduce the effects of a cultural transition.
The challenges? Well working in a second language may well be more challenging when not immersed in the language and culture on a daily basis. We also know from experience this year that building an online community is not easy so students may suffer from being disconnected from a peer support network.
The solutions? I don’t have any yet, but this is one of the things I hope to explore over the coming months. If you would like to know more about the project, get involved or share your thoughts on this topic, please e-mail me on email@example.com