The International Student Voices project produced nine short illustrative video clips of international students reflecting upon their involvement in extra-curricular activities engaged in whilst at the University of Leicester. The purpose of the clips is to develop international students understanding of the types of activities they can engage in to develop their skills, enhance their employability and enjoy a richer higher education experience.
The University of Leicester has over 8000 international students from across 70 non-EU countries, primarily China, India, Canada, Nigeria, USA and the Far East. The Student Support and Development Service (SSDS), including the Careers Service, provides services for these students through both its mainstream activities and those of specialist staff in regular liaison with the Students’ Union and others within the institution such as the International Office.
International students are confronted by many challenges when studying in the UK, including acculturation, legislation, accommodation, study and employment. However, we felt there was a need for a different resource that would both inform international students about the extra-curricular employability opportunities available and inspire them to participate, with benefits including: a richer UK experience; broader cultural awareness; better language skills; and opportunities for personal, social and career development.
The project team was drawn from across SSDS, the Students’ Union and Multi-Media Services, with the International Office and Marketing providing advice as appropriate. Other partners included academic staff participating in the HOST programme and employers providing work placements.
The videos are case studies, illustrated by images and students’ personal testimonies. These describe the benefits learners have derived from their involvement in employability activities – personal growth, skills development and cultural awareness – whilst demonstrating the many ways the learner can engage with the University, the local community and employers.
The topics discussed included work placements, volunteering, student societies and cultural acclimatisation. Each clip was then edited down to about 90 seconds and contextualised with appropriate images. The students supplied all the imagery used in the project, it was felt that this would give them a sense of involvement and ownership. The clips are embedded into the final resource that is designed to get the learner to consider employability and direct them to further resources and opportunities for engagement.
I edit the clips were edited using Final Cut Pro (Apple), this software was chosen as it enabled us to make effective use of the illustrative imagery by animating motion on a static image. Additionally the ability to show the image in parallel with the soundtrack, which helped make the students’ explanations of activates contextual. These were some great techniques Jon Shears taught me as during this project.
The videos are hosted on YouTube, enabling them to be embedded into the final resource. This also makes them open reusable learning objects because, although University of Leicester students were interviewed, we tried to avoid too many references to the institution so they could be used wider across the sector.
The videos are packaged together into a larger resource that enables the learner to explore and consider employability opportunities and stimulate the learner to explore further the career development materials and engage in employability. Furthermore, it was felt that hearing the messages from peers, who had previously engaged in employability activities, would be empathetic for the learner and would enable the learner to benefit from the experience of fellow international students.
Feedback from international students has been excellent. Over 1000 students have used the resource and watched the videos since November 2010. Student comments from feedback received include:
‘…. when I watch those videos, I found my anxiety is totally meaningless. All students seem to very much fit in there and they are happy.’
‘These are good informative videos. They are necessary because international student are conscious about these and these build his/her interest in these opportunities.’
‘Great resource to find out about things you can do at University of Leicester.’
The resource has been well received by the institution with a direct link from the University’s home page for international students to the videos, giving a substantial boost to the importance of the resource within the wider international student experience.