Supporting BAME students in outward mobility
The University of Wolverhampton has developed a traineeship programme which offers an extensive support package and has resulted in a high percentage of BAME students participating in outward mobility, writes Dr Helene Turley, Head of The Workplace.
Black and minority ethnic students are underrepresented in mobility, as shown in UUKi's Widening Participation report. The University of Wolverhampton goes against the norm as over 68% of students that take part in our outward mobility programme are BAME students. This figure is considerably high given that the university student profile is made up of 45.2% of students from a BAME background. This programme does not target a particular demographic and it is open to all students; however, the support put in place has attracted many BAME students.
How it works
The University of Wolverhampton works with partners across the world to enable students to undertake a traineeship in a supportive environment and to experience a world of culture. The university advertises international programmes in December and recruits up until the spring. Assessment is not based on module grades but on the student's attitude and ability to adapt to a new working and living environment. Most students undertake their traineeship from May to September when they no longer have classes to attend.
From December to April, partners across Europe work with the students to find relevant placements and accommodation. They arrange transfers and an induction in the destination country. The University of Wolverhampton books flights and arranges insurance in order to take away the stress from the student. The University keeps in regular contact with the student to make sure their mobility is going well so that they feel supported. Where required, additional support mechanisms are put in place to support the student's mobility such as ensuring that accommodation is within close vicinity of a place of worship.
The main challenge the University faces is meeting student expectations. Most students are home students who live locally. The traineeship takes them out of their comfort zone, away from family and their home. The University runs workshops with input from past participants to try and set expectations. The programme allows students to travel in small groups, so they don't feel isolated and have adequate support in place to instil confidence.
In the last five years, over 610 students have experienced a traineeship abroad lasting from 8 weeks to 12 months (68% were BAME students). Many students have continued travelling and working abroad after their first international experience through this programme.
Tim Steele, Pro Vice Chancellor (International), supports the initiative and says: "As a university we are committed to providing all our students with the opportunity to add a global dimension to their studies. Research clearly shows the benefits of going overseas and how this helps students both in terms of personal development but through their academic achievements. It is with this in mind that we will be building on our work to increase BAME participation through increasing the amount of funding available to all our students which underpins our approach as the 'University of Opportunities' and our support for the Go International initiative."
Top tips from the University of Wolverhampton on how to build supportive mobility programmes:
- Preparation – run workshops with input from past participants
- Build Confidence – send students out in small groups
- Support – choose host partners who are understanding and supportive
"It was such a wonderful experience and I had a wonderful group of students to share it with. I had a brilliant time exploring the country. I was fortunate enough to have travelled with students who were very open minded and willing to adapt to change." Sicily - Biomedical Science student
"Thank you for providing me with this wonderful opportunity. I have learned and enjoyed a lot. Two months flew by quickly." Prague - Biomedical Science student
"I loved my Erasmus Internship in Turkey. I was able to apply the knowledge I gained from my Genetics and Molecular degree in an active research environment. Working with researchers from different research fields and different countries expanded my knowledge base immensely." Turkey - Genetics and Molecular Science student
"It has been a great experience for sure. It has helped me to determine the sector I would like to work in and the type of HR I hope to specialise in in the future." Malta – Human Resources and Business Management student
"Thank you so much for helping with my time in Malta! I got plenty of media content experience, I partnered on a website launch called Quizando that resulted in a fantastic reference letter from my employer." Malta – Marketing Management student
- Dr Helene Turley, Head of The Workplace, the careers service at University of Wolverhampton
- This blog was written for Universities UK.
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