Tag Archives: higher education

Getting into Higher Education for Refugees

Aim Higher - University Jargon quizThis month’s guest post is provided by by Julie Watson, Emeritus Fellow in eLearning and creator of Prepare for Success, and follows on from last month’s post about Teaching Syrian and other refugees:

For refugees wishing to enter UK Higher Education, it can be a challenge to know how and where to begin. There are many practical questions such as how to apply; how to finance your studies; how to provide evidence of your previous studies and, of course, how to provide evidence of an adequate level of English.

A very useful website to use as a starting point is Refugee Study. This website contains lots of practical information about scholarships and grants as well as advice about how to obtain funding for study and links to website listing recognised qualifications obtained overseas.

Many of the questions that refugees have are also addressed in the open and free online course (MOOC): Aim Higher: Access to Higher Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Student participants can create an account and select ‘register interest’ to receive information by email about the next running of this MOOC.

There are also MOOCs covering IELTS, which is an examination that many students choose to take to demonstrate their English level for UK study. These include:

There is a lot of jargon around the process of applying to university but a useful resource that explains some important terms has been created by the Aim Higher MOOC team: Aim Higher University Jargon.

Finally, there is of course the Prepare for Success website and its range of learning resources dealing with the academic skills and language needed, and practical aspects of study in higher education in the UK.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

What is studying in the UK like for Chinese students? (part 2)

StudyingXiangping Du, Academic Skills Tutor at the University of Hertfordshire, writes her second guest blog post for Prepare for Success and shares more of her experiences of dealing with the challenges faced as a Chinese student in the UK:

I also had to learn to write in different formats for essays and reports. I can still recall the first piece of work I completed, which was an essay. I thought it was good as I used headings, subheadings, and bullet points as clear signposts. However, I was shocked to only get a mere pass of 40%. I realised I had used the wrong format, and referring to the mark, I was shocked because in China, 60% is a pass, and students would normally achieve 80% or 90%. However, it appears that achieving 80% or 90% is quite rare in English universities, and getting 60% or 70% is regarded as a high mark.

Critical evaluation was another key new concept I had to learn in the UK. In China, we used to believe in whatever was published and regarded it as the authority. However, after coming to study in the UK, I learnt to think and write critically, where I had to look into different facets of an issue and ask questions like a detective. I had to synthesis various views from different scholars, analyse and critically evaluate them before presenting my own ‘informed’ opinion. This method of critical evaluation is not easy for an international student because It not only requires critical thinking, but also extensive reading from academic, reliable and credible sources, as well as writing skills such as paraphrasing and synthesising.

In addition, I learnt to manage my time and to study independently which are vital skills because students do not necessarily have classes every day. It’s all too easy to waste time by watching movies, social networking or playing computer games! This was particularly important when I was doing my PhD research as, apart from only a few one-to-one supervisions with my supervisor, there was not any compulsory class to attend.

A lot of assessments in the UK also involve group-work and managing teams can be challenging. I found working with others from different cultures could be challenging, but gradually I learnt that this experience was very valuable for my professional life, and my English language development.

In all, my own experience shows that academic expectations in the Chinese education system are very different from those in the UK. It is very important for Chinese international students to know what to expect beforehand so that they can fully prepare themselves for their study in the UK. This is why I co-authored our book Study Skills for Chinese Students because I know that such a book would really have helped me so much when I first came to study in the UK. I want to make sure that all Chinese students in the UK have this essential information now, about the differences and challenges of UK study, and the academic skills and techniques expected in the UK.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized

What is studying in the UK like for Chinese students?

Chinese studentsWhat are the challenges that Chinese students face as international students in the UK? Xiangping Du is an Academic Skills Tutor at the University of Hertfordshire, and in the first of two guest blog posts for Prepare for Success she shares her own experience of dealing with the challenges she faced as a student in the UK. Having studied in both a Chinese and English higher education environment, she understands the academic challenges Chinese students face when they come to study in an English context:

In the past 4 years of study, I have been through many ups and downs. Thanks to a high IELTS score, I did not have to do a pre-sessional preparation course; however, I felt that I was disadvantaged as I missed all the lessons on academic expectations and skills required in an English-speaking environment. Consequently, the first semester was the most challenging, when I had to manage different academic expectations while I was adjusting to a completely different physical environment.

Coming to study in the UK was considered a short-cut after I completed 3 years’ diploma in China. The idea was to spend 1 year on a final year of my undergraduate (UG) degree, and 1 year on my postgraduate (PG) degree. That is to say, within 2 years, I would be able to graduate with a Master’s degree, which would normally need 5 years if I chose to study in China. As a matter of fact, I ended up with the award of PhD after spending 4 years in the UK (1 year on UG and 3 years on a PhD).

The first day coming to the university was very memorable. I was surprised to see so many international students from so many different countries, with different accents and limited English. The first week was International Orientation Week, particularly organised for international students, and home students only came a week later for Induction Week. Nonetheless, l had fun during that week and I participated in various social activities, met many friends from different parts of the world and built my confidence speaking English with other international students.

After the course started, I was surprised that a textbook wasn’t given to us, only a few ‘Module Guides’ which contained only brief information about the course, the assessments, and a long reading list. There were no course textbooks like in China, and I was expected to read widely from books I found for myself, and also journal articles, news items and other database information as recommended in the reading list. The reading was just killing me at the beginning! I was not used to reading full English texts without any Chinese explanation / translation so it often took me ages to finish reading a recommended chapter or an article. Gradually, I learnt to read for ‘gist’ – skim and scan for information – instead of reading every single word, and I also kept a good dictionary with me.

Gradually, my improved reading helped with my writing, although the paraphrasing techniques I had to use in writing, as well as referencing, were other difficult things for me initially. When I used to study in China, I didn’t need to include any references in writing, or acknowledge sources, because we regarded citing others’ work as an honour for them, and we regarded things written by them as available for others to know and to use. However, I learnt that in the English academic world, referencing is a serious matter and if it is not followed properly, students can be accused of ‘plagiarism’ which is a serious academic misconduct issue and has serious consequences. Therefore, referencing is definitely something I had to quickly learn in the UK.

In her next guest blog post, Xiangping discusses more of the challenges she met whilst studying in the UK, especially in academic assignments and critical thinking. Xiangping has co-written Study Skills for Chinese Students with Michael Courtney, who is also an Academic Skills Tutor at the University of Hertfordshire. They have taught Chinese students in China and the West for many years, and using her own experience both as a student and as a Tutor, Xiangping shares strategies for effective study. Chinese students interested in purchasing the book via the Sage website can receive a 25% discount using this code: UK15SM04 (enter it in the promotions code box during the checkout process). This offer is valid until the 20th March 2015.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

Leave a comment...

Posted in Uncategorized