Every year hundreds of international students flock to the University of Essex – and in exchange University of Essex students leave to travel all over the world and indulge in various new cultures during their studies.
This is all made possible through the Essex Abroad scheme, which aims to bring new international experience to students looking to study abroad by offering them both study and work placements in another country.
Currently linked with 152 Universities in 40 different countries through exchange students, it has brought more than 300 international students to the University this academic year so far with 100 more expecting to arrive in January.
Through the programme, students can build on their independence and cultural awareness by studying at one of these universities in a country of their choice for as little as a month or up to a year.
The scheme has also recently launched its new study exchange and internship programme which allows students to go abroad for two semesters – spending the first studying and the second working in a local company or at the University.
The Essex Abroad fair was hosted on Square 2 in November to show University of Essex students the numerous opportunities it provides.
The fair consisted of several stalls set up around Square 2, each representing a different continent or a specific country that the scheme is involved in so Essex could learn more about how the scheme works in each country.
Oversees students themselves were attending each stall to personally answer the questions of University of Essex students looking to become involved with the programme.
The University of Essex prides itself in being among the 15th most international university in the world based of Times Higher Education research and, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 21% of its students come from another country.
As well as this, the University has exceeded its target of having 13% of its British undergraduate students with international experience; the university now strives to bring this number up to 20% through programmes like Essex Abroad.
One of these stalls represented China, which currently has 11 universities involved in the Essex Abroad scheme.
But two Essex Abroad students tending the stall representing China believe there is not much support for international students, one of the girls stating that especially in terms of accommodation as the University does not guarantee a place to stay for students studying for just one term.
“But even fulltime Essex Abroad graduates have struggled to find accommodation and are now staying in local hotels like Wivenhoe Hotel,” she told us.
Despite this, there is plenty of study support for international students provided by the University of Essex with 90% of its international students being in work or further studies within 6 months of graduation, based off the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Suvery.
This support includes funding and scholarships as well as pre-departure workshops and information sessions. University of Essex students travelling abroad for a whole year are also not required to pay the tuition fee for both the University of Essex and their abroad university for the duration of that year.
We asked Kylie Kay, an Essex Abroad student from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, about her experience with the scheme and, although she had no problem with the level of support provided to international students, she did feel there was a social barrier between overseas students and British students.
She stated that although most international students come abroad to experience a different culture, they will stick to groups of people with similar backgrounds.
Kylie herself did not follow this trend and became involved in British culture, specifically the UK’s enthusiasm for recycling: “back at home, I’d have to force my friends to recycle,” She explained.
Her advice to students wishing to join the programme was to become involved in different groups and societies: “let go and put yourself out there!”