November 16, 2009, by Teaching at Nottingham

Integrating students from across campuses

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Stephanie Bridges: “I’ve done quite a lot of student interviews as part of my research and I find a real variety in students, in their friendships, in their mixing within the course, people who have a whole range of friends from different cultures, from different nationalities, different backgrounds, to students who very much stay with their type, as it were. And I think part of my research is to try and, try and get to the root of why this perhaps happens and whether there is potential for encouraging a more diverse mix within the course.”

Chris Barnatt: “We find anyway that international students and UK students tend to separate even when they arrive in the first year in the UK. That’s a much bigger issue when you’ve got a group of students arriving on exchange or transferring in Year 2 because we could have a group of say 100 people arriving in Year 2 from Ningbo and with the best will in the world it’s very difficult to say you will all mix together because just the practicalities – they’re put in university accommodation together, they’ve been used to being taught together for typically two years in Ningbo.”

Peter Yeandle: “I’m a teaching fellow but my job’s funded from Ningbo to be personal tutor for the Ningbo exchange students who come here. I haven’t done any teaching over there but I have gone out to visit the next lot who are coming in. So it’s the next year cohort, next academic year’s cohort. I gave a lecture when I was out there and a workshop but not a module. So I did contribute a bit but mainly so it could ease their transition because they knew who their personal tutor would be when they got here and so forth.

“I was very much preconditioned to expect these Chinese students to segregate themselves, to bunch together. And I was quite disappointed to find out they’d all chosen to live together in [unintelligible 42.11] Hall. But they weren’t like that at all. The first event we organised because we organised a number of social events as well, but the first one we organised was a kind of welcome dinner. And what we did was we invited all of the students from Ningbo to come along but we also invited as many students from Chinese studies who wanted to come. And what they did without any pressure from us was they matched themselves up study buddies, mainly language buddies to help the English speaking students have practice doing conversational Mandarin and vice versa.”

Samer Alkassar: “The last thing you want to do, this is very important and it’s just crossed my mind, is to get yourself in a group of people from your own country or people that speak your own language, you’ll learn nothing actually, you’ll feel isolated, don’t do that it’s a very big mistake that people do. Mingle and mix with people here up to the level that you feel comfortable with. Some people want to take it too far, some people want to, it’s very much a person choice you know, because religion and all that, all these kind of things play in equation, so the last thing you want to do is isolate yourself”

Chris Barnatt: “I think we’ve seen some examples where we’ve actually started to use technology to bridge gaps between campuses that way. We’ve had student groups where they’ve actually, we’ve booked them into a video conference so they would be able to talk to each other. The university Sife team which has been successful internationally for quite a while now has actually got groups based in the UK and in NingBo where they’re actually running projects between the campuses and that’s, again starts, so the university making use of its international dimension, internationalisation isn’t just about what happens in the syllabus of a module, it’s also trying to recognise we’ve got very large cohorts of students all around the world, all of whom are Nottingham students. And often it doesn’t take much from our perspective to get them to do all sorts of things together.”

Stephanie Bridges: “I’ve really, from looking at the international angle, and thinking about the possible, well, divisions within the course, really, not just how the students from the two campuses go in to integrate, which was my initial concern, that’s taken me on to the whole area of, But how do the students integrate irrespective of which campus they’re on, you know, what is the integration like across the course? To what extent do students stay in their sort of comfort zones and their groups? That then made me consider the diversity and the mix of cultures across the course and actually, the potential that there was there for intercultural learning.”

Samer Alkassar (Nottingham University Business School),
Christopher Barnatt (Nottingham University Business School),
Stephanie Bridges (School of Pharmacy),
Peter Yeandle (Department of History).

Extracts from interviews with staff and students about experiences of internationalisation. This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Learning from internationalisation collection. Produced November 2009.

Posted in InternationalisationTransition into HE