The University welcomes students from over 100 countries every year, contributing to a diverse international community of around 2,500 students. The International Centre has been developing its work in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia in particular, leading to an exciting increase in students from this region.
International students are a vibrant part of campus life, and many graduates comment on how studying at Wolverhampton has enabled them to build relationships with friends from other countries and learn about different cultures.
The International Centre (IC) has a pivotal role in seeking new markets to maintain a healthy, stable and diverse overseas student body for the University. As one market may decline, the University seeks new areas to develop links with partners and launch recruitment drives.
In late 2010, the IC began work with overseas partners to build numbers of Middle Eastern students, primarily from Saudi Arabia.
The initiative has been a success, and the IC has significantly exceeded its recruitment target from the Saudi Arabian market over the last year. More than 120 students from Saudi Arabia enrolled at the University in September for the 2011/12 year, and a further 80 recently arrived to start their studies in Semester 2.
International Officer Carl Adaway explains: “We plan to visit Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2012 in order to meet high-ranking personnel in the Ministry of Education and other relevant and influential educational bodies with a view to establishing a stronger relationship and ensure continued growth over the coming years.”
The students are on a variety of different courses at the University, with students enrolled on subjects at six of the eight academic Schools. The majority of the students are funded by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau for a period of 18 months for their English Language programmes followed by their period of study, whether that is at undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD level.
The Bureau maintains a close interest in the academic progress of the students and the relationship led to a visit to the University from high profile figures from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London recently.
Professor Ghazy Almakky, Cultural Attaché to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, and his colleague Dr Aiman Momenah, Deputy Cultural Attaché, visited the University before Christmas and met with Saudi students to discuss their experience so far.
They also met with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, and other staff members and were given tours of the facilities of the School of Technology and School of Applied Sciences.
So why is Wolverhampton attractive to this particular market?
The excellent support mechanisms in place for international students is a key selling point.
“Many Saudi Arabian students need to attend an English Language programme prior to the start of their course,” Head of International Recruitment and Special Projects, Yves Milhavy, explains.
“The University of Wolverhampton offers an array of English Language programmes from beginners’ level right up to IELTS 6.0 standard and beyond.
“The International Centre has also introduced a new, fully integrated four-year International Foundation/undergraduate degree programme and, as a result, students can progress from their International Foundation Year onto their undergraduate programme without having to renew their visa.”
In addition, Wolverhampton is a great place to study and its location makes it an excellent place from which to explore the rest of the UK. The feedback has been very positive, with the students praising the staff for being friendly, supportive and always prepared to make time to listen to them. They also enjoy the opportunities to be involved in group debate, as well as mixing with other nationalities and learning about different cultures.
Jo Gittens, Director, International, is delighted with the University’s success in recruiting from this new market, and sees the development as a positive step for the International Centre and the University community as a whole.
She says: “Staff and students at the University benefit from the expansion of our global community to include the Middle East and the Arabic speaking nations, bringing further diversity and playing an important role in our internationalisation agenda.”
And as the new students share their positive experiences with their friends and families back home, the number of students from Saudi Arabia making the journey to Wolverhampton is set to rise in coming years.