International awards to reward excellence 1

April 1, 2005

The multibillion-pound business of recruiting overseas students has become a key issue for UK higher education and something of a political hot potato over the past year, writes Tony Tysome.

But as institutions, lobby groups and politicians wrangle over visa charges, visa appeal rights and institutional registers, they all agree that looking after overseas students is critical to success in the global market.

That is why The Times Higher is seeking examples of best practice in this area by inviting institutions, departments and individuals to apply for our Outstanding Support for Overseas Students award.

The award will go to the entry considered to be the best and most innovative example of an initiative that is helping overseas students to gain the maximum benefit from their study and their experience in the UK.

A panel of judges - representing the council for international education Ukcosa, the British Council and the National Union of Students - will help pick the winner.

One of the judges, Dominic Scott, chief executive of Ukcosa, which held a conference on international student support last week, said: "Amid so much background noise from politicians on bad news stories, it makes a terrific change to focus on the more positive side of the international student market."

Peter Williams, Quality Assurance Agency chief executive, told delegates at Ukcosa's conference that support for international students may become a feature of the QAA's next round of audits next year.

"With over 250,000 students from around 150 countries coming to the UK each year, there is an often unsung backbone of extraordinarily dedicated staff who support them and help them adjust to a radically different environment.

So it is great to see all this recognised in a new award."

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