These are the notes from the last International Students Forum. If you have any questions about them, or would like to get more involved in the Internationl Studnents campaign contact the NUS International Students Officer, Christina Yan Zhang.
International Students Forum
International Students Campaign
1. Are issues of EU and International Students different? How can you represent EU/International Students?
a) The Forum agreed that issues faced by EU and International Students can be different, but there are some that overlap. The EU specific problems are mainly connected with the faulty policies, which are not properly implemented, such as:
· Application of the same legislation to both home and EU students (e.g. student loans, maintenance grants).
· Recognition of UK degrees for jobs in other EU countries.
· Accepting prior qualifications under the Bologna declaration.
· Mobility between degrees.
· Issues around Erasmus exchanges (e.g. recognition of credits).
· Equal treatment to home students in regards to private sector accommodation.
Problems specific to International Students were mainly connected to the immigration law (e.g. visa requirements, limits on working hours), level of tuition fees and the general treatment of International Students as ‘cash cows.’
Issues shared by both EU and International Students seemed to already have mechanisms to be dealt with relatively easy, but need more attention. The group identified the following shared problems:
· Language skills / support
· Accommodation issues
· Mutual respect and understanding between staff and students
· Discrimination at workplace
b) The Forum discussed different ways of representing International and EU Students. It was pointed out International Students from collaborative provision (partner institutions) are particularly hard to represent. When it comes to on-campus students, the group came up with the following ideas:
· Setting up a non-elected, open ‘action groups’ which can meet with Sabbatical Officers on regular basis.
· Having designated EU and International positions on the Students’ Union Council.
· International Students Forums or Associations, bringing together different national societies.
· Having regional divisions of forums/associations, such as EU, North America, South America, South-East Asia etc.
· Balancing the social events with actual representation (campaigning, etc.)
2. The Bologna process
When asked about issues around the Bologna process, students identified and discussed the following:
· Some countries are not in favour of the Bologna process, saying that it does not fit their national structures – i.e. the BA/MA distinction.
· The timing of information provided to ERASMUS exchange students is sometimes problematic, not all of it getting to students early enough.
· It was said that one of the key issues for ERASMUS students is accommodation.
· The group felt that Universities should try and mix students from different countries.
· It was pointed out that some lecturers are lacking the knowledge and understanding of non-UK students’ needs (constructing exam questions, essay writing, etc.)
· The group discussed financial difficulties and the feeling was that, in general, EU students seem to be more money wise compared to home students.
· The issue of low numbers of widening access EU students was raised.
The group also discussed the reasons why EU students choose UK as their study destination, with the following examples:
· The quality of degrees and research.
· Having a more practical experience. It was felt that other countries focus mostly on theory and do not engage students in critical thinking.
· More support from the institutions (academic, welfare, etc.).
· Smaller class sizes.
· Flexibility of the student experience (module choice, placements, etc.)
Enhancing language skills or learning another language.