Careers advice goes global
As universities have become
international institutions, attracting students from around the world and
sending increasing numbers of their graduates to all four corners of the earth
to work, so their careers services need to adapt to serve this vast cohort of
students from outside the UK.
With full-time students from 86
countries and more than 3,670 international distance learning students –
without counting students from within the EU - Leicester is taking a lead in
specialising in international careers advice. One
of the first universities to use email as a means for advising students at a
distance, it is also about to appoint a careers adviser to develop provision
for international students, both on and off campus.
Head of the Careers Service Martin
Pennington said: “Most university
careers services pay attention to international students, of course, but we
are actually recruiting somebody whose main role will be to help international
students tackle their career planning within the context of other educational
support and guidance available throughout their student days at Leicester.
“It will be quite a challenge to
become familiar with the job market for our international students within the
range of countries from which they come. Our
new appointee will also develop resources for international students who wish
to work in the UK, and help to alert graduate employers to the qualities of
our international students as well as those from the UK.
“I believe the role also has the
potential to help the growing numbers of our home students who want to work
elsewhere in the world.”
The University of Leicester is one of
the UK’s leading providers of postgraduate distance learning programmes, and
for the past two years the Careers Service has been developing email as a
medium for careers guidance, partly in order to serve this distant, but major,
sector of their student body.
Martin Pennington feels it has
developed into a system that works well.
“Because it is less immediate than a
face-to-face interview, both sides can consider what has been said carefully
before they reply, rather than having to respond immediately as in a
one-to-one situation. In the gaps
between emails we have the chance to think: ‘What does this person need?
How can we best help?’
“You also have a record of what is
said. We find that in one-to-one
discussions people may go away with messages that were not intended.
In writing emails there is less chance of this happening.”
One of the drawbacks, he feels, is the
lack of non-verbal cues, which can indicate how people are responding to an
advisor. Also the response time is
slowed down: any question has to
wait for an answer, and advisers have had to learn to be quite disciplined
over the amount of time they give to each email, avoiding the temptation to
turn each exchange into the ultimate, perfectly-crafted reply.
Feedback so far from students and graduates has been very positive, and on a purely practical level it has meant that students can contact the Careers Service, through its website, at times that suit them. “People can email us at 2am UK time, if they want to, and we simply respond when we get into work,” said Martin Pennington.
Last updated: 13 May 2004 15:20
Created by: Barbara Whiteman
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