More than 70 staff attended the first English UK Student Experience Conference of the decade on Friday 26 September.
Topics included risk assessment, Accreditation UK welfare criteria, helping students with visa applications, social programmes and Keith Harding on how to ensure students achieve their "dream experience" when learning in the UK.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss their most pressing issues in an Open Space session and raised subjects such as student culture and behaviour, homestays, visas and student recruitment. Lauren Hopkins of Living Learning English in Bristol found that "it has been very useful to talk to others, and I really liked the Open Spaces idea and will probably use it myself."
The day closed with a discussion from joint organiser Will Nash and Richard Simpson of Sheffield University's English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) on "the Sheffield Experience" - why the University of Sheffield was voted the university most students would recommend to a friend and how language centres could create a similar buzz for themselves.
Describing a list of inventive activities, from a 'give it a go' programme (where students try things as a one-off) to extending Google's Street View service to inside the ELTC building, Nash and Simpson encouraged the audience to expand their students' experience. "We're suggesting how these ideas might be transferable or adaptable for other situations," Simpson said.
Huan Japes, English UK's Deputy Chief Executive for Professional Services, said: "It's been an excellent conference and something we could repeat as it sold out and we had a waiting list. It's been good to offer sessions and networking dedicated to staff on the non-academic end of student experience."
Sarah Marlow, student services manager for Bloomsbury International, found the day "motivational," while colleague Zoe Box added: "It was extremely useful. The seminars were all very helpful and inspiring. They got you thinking about what you are doing, and if you are doing it right."
It was the first conference to be sponsored by Trinity College London and business development manager Andy Harrison was delighted. "It's great that our first was such a positive and useful occasion. It's reached a different group of English Language professionals and they seem to have found it very useful."
View the Student Experience Conference photo gallery.
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