Harvey, Halina, Rygiel, Kinga and Thomas, Jo (2015) Inspiring the International Student Experience: establishing and embedding specific support structures. In: NAEP National Annual Conference 2015, 16-17th June 2015, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. (Unpublished)

The University of Huddersfield (UoH) Business School has seen a dramatic expansion in international student recruitment. Numbers have trebled since 2005. The Business School now consists of 30% non-native English speakers.
Kelly and Moogan (2012) suggest British higher education presumes international students can easily access the implicit, expected, conventions of the sector. However, the demands of assessment in the UK may vary considerably from students’ prior experiences of academic reading and writing in English. Although students have achieved the UK Border Agency language entry requirements, the reality of applying L2 to the new, varied academic context, presents challenges and requires support. Comments on entry qualifications, particularly the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), produce findings on the limitations of assessed writing and reading tasks. Moore and Morton (2005) concluded that the academic literacy which characterises writing in the IELTS syllabus differs significantly to that required for university assessment. They also state that IELTS assessment tasks portray reading as an activity disconnected from writing. This compares unfavourably with university tasks. In addition it may not be the case that standard teaching practice in UK HE addresses the multifarious nature of international students’ prior learning experiences. While L2 competency is undoubtedly a significant contributor to student achievement, it is in fact part of a wider skill set such as, note-making, collaboration, reflexivity, criticality, autonomy and presentation and seminar techniques. All of which must be employed to achieve at university.
Research undertaken by UoH Business School Learning Development Group into students’ perceptions and experiences of the transition to British HE bears this out. As a result specific support structures have been implemented since 2012. These develop both EAP and academic skills with the overall aim of continuous improvement in terms of achievement and the international student experience.

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