“We’ve seen a real trend in the last five years towards a peer-to-peer approach,” said Daniel Hinkley, co-founder and director of CampusConnect.
“Most universities have provision, but often it’s quite scattered. It could be some Whatsapp groups for example. But it’s hard to centralise that approach and it’s hard to be efficient.
“Most universities have provision, but often it’s quite scattered”
“Having a kind of branded and unique platform, you can see what people are talking about and create action points around those trends, pre-empting things rather than being reactive.”
London Metropolitan University said one way it is pre-empting student needs is through the creation of country-specific guides for students, which forms part of the provision for students pre-arrival.
“Guides have things like practical advice, but also information from past students, things like ‘what I wish I’d known’,” said Jennifer Wilkinson, director of student recruitment and business development at the university.
“We’re always gathering feedback. Before students start, they come and do a week of activities, either in-person or online this year, which has worked really well because we’ve been able to engage a lot more students.”
Mariana Ulanowicz, director of business development and strategic operations and The Stay Club London, also emphasised the importance of continuing to support students after arrival.
“We create a yearly plan. It starts off with fresher’s week then we have activities that we do like sports and Social Fridays,” she explained.
“We organise trips to different cities and different kind of outings.
“Also we have partnerships [with companies] like Dominos and students also have discounts in different places because they study with us.”
Wilkinson also said that London Met utilises a platform specifically geared towards international students to help them find work after graduating.
“Prior to the graduate route being brought back, they were listing only the opportunities that were eligible for tier 2 sponsorship,” she explained.
“[That meant] students weren’t going to be applying for roles that they were never going to be considered for.
“So it’s about curating those opportunities that really would work for students.”
Kevin McNally, principal of Stay Campus London, added that he tended to find the students whose parents or perhaps their agent was advising them feel could benefit from extra attention.
“Students are expected to adjust to the culture of the organisation,” he said of comments they had gotten from their courses.
“Our prime focus is to receive the student and then to help them along the way. Of course they have to to adjust because they go to university, but we see our job as facilitation of adjustment rather than just expecting [them to do it].”