The survey Seek feedback on the international student experience at LSE – is not having an International Office critical? Conducted collaboratively by the Language, Careers, Teaching and Learning Centres and Recruitment and Student Support Offices. Survey combined questionnaires with follow up focus groups
Questionnaires Distributed in weeks 3 and 10 of the Michaelmas term, mainly in Language Centre classes. 367 (week 3) and 83 (week 10) respondents Key themes that emerged – academic expectations, university system and provision of services (language support, accommodation, UK job market etc.)
Focus groups 5 focus groups of 8 – 12 students held with groups of Msc, PhD, General Course (US) and undergraduate international students Group discussions followed academic expectations, university system and support services format.
Results – Academic expectations Independent study ethos wasnt explained / sold beforehand No clear expectations established by term, or even for the year, no regular testing etc. meaning no clear sense of progress – tests / module exams at Xmas? More transparency and clarity on assessment – coursework and exams
Results – university system Value for money of a 20 week academic year with 8 contact hours a week? Course architecture and information variable – excellent to poor – webCT / dept. web pages / virtual course packs / electronic journals valued where provided
Results – university system 100% exams not a fair assessment method Tutorial support isnt supportive Facilities are variable – e.g. in terms of communal areas to socialise in
Results – support services Surprise so much was offered for free, this isnt the case in many countries Role of student societies? Division between foreign and UK societies Bottleneck times of year – LC in Michaelmas term, Careers in November / April etc. One central information source for whats available? (virtual international office)
Summary Rather than specific issues, same concerns as UK students, but the perspective of their own cultures Key issue really is academic departmental performance – clarity, feedback, support, lecturing, seminars – and variability between departments / courses
Summary Bottom line finding is that department / course provision is the basis for student experiences / satisfaction Course convenors appear the key staff within institutions in terms of welfare and satisfaction of international students An International Office etc. is peripheral to this
Role of Language Centres beyond language support? Understand and offer insights into the system / departments? – departmental support / liaison – e.g. dissertation writing seminars Provision to meet high demand periods and more extended induction – five week block courses in Michaelmas term? Provide overview of the year as well as writing tips? Longer terms / vacation courses / events run by LC?
Recommendations Support – if not tutorials in the traditional sense, mentoring? Esp. PhD? Provision of communal spaces / non-alcoholic events / societies Management of expectations – build expectations pre-arrival, sell the independence of UK study, be transparent on assessment expectations post-arrival