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International Students Share Their Experience On Housing

clock iconCreated At:12 April, 2023
write iconCreated By:Hagar Samir

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The PIE Live Europe gave international students a chance to talk about their experiences with university leaders last week.

The student roundtable breakout session paved the way for international students to discuss how their personal experiences during their time in the United Kingdom were. In addition, students also talked about their needs and to what extent they were met during their stay. 

The conversations between students, universities, and provider representatives came naturally despite having a lot of questions on the table to get the conversation started between them. It’s also safe to say that stakeholders were keen on hearing about the students’ journey, and students were more than ready to share their experiences. 

During the session, Blessing Okoroafor, an international student studying at Coventry University, discussed how her time as an international student in the United Kingdom helped her prepare herself for life after graduation. This came into play as Okoroafor’s graduation took place on the same day of the session. 

“Today is my graduation day”, Blessing Okoroafor told The PIE News. “But it is so important for me to be here and to share my story about how the UK prepared me for the future”.

“My UK education helped me with time management, with prioritising”. She said as she discussed employability and how many skills she gained during her time at Coventry University. 

While discussing employability, she mentioned that it is not just about the hard or the soft skills by saying, “I believe that not only will my future employers recognise the skills I learned at my university, but also, they will recognise my potential, and that is a powerful force”.

Adityavarman Mehta, a doctoral researcher of politics and international studies at the University of Leeds, explained the dream he has of a UK education. “While growing up in India, the pursuit of higher education in the UK was considered to be aspirational. Having done the IGCSE, I had first-hand exposure to the academic rigour of a British education”.

While discussing that, Mehta hinted that graduate school in the UK was not the easiest task. In fact, it had its challenges. 

“Finding accommodation in Leeds was a monumental undertaking. Since I’m not a British citizen, I was asked to supply a guarantor or pay 6-12 months’ rent in advance. Which established professional, let alone a student, can pay so much rent upfront?” He said. 

Mehta also talked about the shortage of housing in Leeds and how he had to settle down for something he didn’t want because the university accommodation was already booked way earlier than he anticipated, as he couldn’t get his visa in time. 

While discussing housing, banking as an issue was also brought up. Apparently, many international students faced banking issues during their stay. Students explained that when housing is delayed, the opening of a bank account is also impacted, as banks in the UK require their addresses. 

“It is crucial for the higher education sector to be cognisant of the importance of life essentials such as housing and banking. If students cannot access housing and banking, how are they supposed to focus on their education?” Mehta remarked.

He also added, “More importantly, universities must be transparent in their communication of these issues because they are key considerations in a prospective student’s decision to pursue a degree at a university”. 

Sára Kozáková is a master’s student at Newcastle University and is also one of the students who attended this event. She also talked about an issue she faced with tuition fee labels, making her experience a little challenging, “As a European student with pre-settled status, who has been consequently given the ‘home student’ tuition fee label, I feel like I don’t belong anywhere”.

She added, “As a student who is currently not ‘home enough’ nor ‘international enough,’ I feel left out of conversations about international students because data-wise I am categorised as a home student”.

Kozáková also discussed that she felt like pre-settled status had taken away her European identity, “We need to rethink the labels we put on students; otherwise, we are not sending a welcoming message if we keep neglecting a whole group of students based on labels”.


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