Talking about the success of the site, Julie Watson, head of eLanguages at Southampton, told The PIE News: “We have had estimated 400,000 visitors in total, making half a million visits from 214 different countries – the top four being the UK, China, India and USA in that order.”
Topics covered could include critical thinking, or how to approach academic reading and writing. An interactive FAQs page tackles queries such as What’s the difference between a tutor and a lecturer? How will my assignments be graded? Or When are exams held in the UK?
The website is free for students and can be used by universities as a resource for their cohorts.
“As well as preparing international students for what to expect when they begin their studies, the resource also provides scope for language improvement,” said Watson. “The learning resources include video and audios for listening practice, all supported with transcripts.”
“The resource also provides scope for language improvement”
Developed with government funding the site does not support advertising, but the university markets it concertedly through social networks such as YouTube, Weibo and Renren. Watson said feedback from students and institutions had been positive.
“225 UK universities and colleges also already link to the site; probably more to use the content in their post arrival induction for international students,” she said. “And we know universities overseas, sixth form colleges and schools also use the site.”
She said the aim now was to reach a million visits. “It would be great to reach all international students who are planning to come and study at universities and colleges in the UK and help them get ready,” she said.
“We also want more educational institutions both in the UK and overseas to know about the learning resources on the website and we invite them to try them out with their students – we don’t think they’ll be disappointed!”