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Peer-network platform for int’l students scales up

A new digital communication platform which enables prospective international students to locate peers from their own nationality already studying overseas has received a chunk of investment to fulfil its growth plans across Europe.

Photo: Unibuddy.

"Students can also share what they did before joining university"

Unibuddy, which provides a direct channel of communication between students around the world and peers from their home country already studying abroad, has received investment in the “hundreds of thousands” to launch the platform and grow its team across the continent.

Five universities joined Unibuddy before the summer – Royal Holloway University of London, Queen Mary University of London, New College of the Humanities, Ecole Hotelière Lausanne, and Imperial College Business School – with 11 more joining this academic year, from the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Spain.

“We imagined that we should put in touch those people like me with the current students who are actually doing it right now at the university”

And close to two-thirds (62%) of the platform’s prospective student user base is from outside of the EU.

Diego Fanara, CEO of Unibuddy, said that it’s important for international students to be able to connect with students to ask questions about the institution and location as they cannot travel to open days, or to retrieve information first-hand.

“They like being able to [engage] online and especially if they do this with students from the same country that’s ideal for them,” he told The PIE News.

Each of the current partner universities boast around a dozen current students, or ambassadors, who use the platform to share their experiences, and who combined represent around 30 countries.

As a former international student himself, Fanara admitted he couldn’t find information “beyond the bullet points” that provided answers to his questions.

“We imagined that we should put in touch those people like me with the current students who are actually doing it right now at the university,” he said.

“Knowing how the exams are, the accommodation, also how much budget you need to live at this university and how is the social life, etc.”

Accommodation and the cost of living have been identified as some of the more common questions asked by prospective students, particularly those abroad.

Students using the Unibuddy site typically receive an email response to their questions within 24 hours.

And during the application period, the questions are “more about the grades”, added Fanara. “Students can also share what they did before joining university.”

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