Interview with an International Student: Challenges International Students Face During their Enrolment Journey
The UK is a home for almost 450,000 of international students, who come every year looking for a world class education, aiming to build an outstanding career path, and creating memories that will last forever. This is all great, and it’s true that the UK students have one of the highest satisfaction levels in the world, yet they don’t have the same levels when it comes to the application stage.
We have interviewed Afraz Hussain, who is an international student, originally from Dubai, to learn more about his enquirer experience prior to his enrolment at the University of Nottingham.
Question: Why did you decide to choose the UK as your studying abroad destination?
Afraz: The UK offers world class education; the qualifications awarded are widely recognised due to the high standards they set when it comes to achieving your degree. On the other side, language was an important factor which you acquire not only throughout the studies but also by the continuous interactions with different kinds of people from across the world, adding an interesting learning experience that changed my perception towards a lot of things forever.
Question: What were the challenges you faced when you applied to study in the UK?
Afraz: The major challenges that I faced when I was applying is the shortlisting of the universities that I wanted to apply to. I was constantly doing research on the rankings and looking up important facts and figures to come up with an informed decision. I also visited one the UK universities’ fair to get access to country-specific information. At the fair, I met a large number of universities which provided loads of brochures about the different programmes yet they failed to provide the information needed because it was too much to process, especially when you are holding 50 of them to view.
The second challenge was the application process, as I wanted to understand more about specific universities’ application processes, such as the entry requirements since all the information that I found online were UK specific. For example, as a student coming from Dubai, a 2:1 didn’t make any sense to me because of the difference in the grading system. This forced me to trouble the universities with non-stop calls and emails which wasn’t that great of a help as the ratio of response was 3:1 with a 3-5 working days response time that made me highly frustrated because everything was taking forever to be understood.
I also wanted to apply for a scholarship, but I didn’t know which scholarships I was eligible for. There was no clear timeline or requirements as I felt that all the information was very generic which resulted in applying for a student loan.
The last challenge that I think is crucial for every student is the tracking of the application, as the entire process wasn’t clear which made me think that I wouldn’t make it because I was short in time. When I finally received the offer I was highly confused as I received emails about conditional and unconditional offers (which I had no idea what they were) and how to apply for UCAS. I was receiving random emails reminding me to apply when I am an offer holder, so the lack of personalisation was an absolute headache.
Lastly, at the fair and through several marketing campaigns, we had been informed that we have an advisor in Dubai that will be contacting us to meet with us to solve any pending queries and that never happened. I didn’t get notified about the events around me that would have made my life way easier; but at the end day, I made it!
Question: How do you think universities could do better?
Afraz: To be honest, the only reason I shortlisted Nottingham was because they were one of the few that responded to my enquiry which motivated to apply, so I think universities have to be quick to respond as it does affect your decision big time.
In my opinion, the availability of a platform that facilitates direct contact with prospective students would be great, where they explain country-specific entry requirements and advertise relevant events. This would offer great added value in the decision making process. A mobile app is the best solution where we can be prompted with news and updates on our application and the next steps that we should take.