Guidance for Parents and Advisers of International Students
Your son or daughter moving overseas to study could well be the biggest change your family has gone through to date. It may be especially worrying in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, so here are a few answers to questions that may be on your mind. Our intention is to help you to help your son or daughter make the most of their time at the University of Northampton, not to teach you how to be a parent!
If you do find this useful, or if you feel we should add or change something, please tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2016-17 the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) published the ‘Mobilising Family Support: implications for the academic resilience of international students’ report. Aimed primarily at higher education institutions, it contains many useful insights into what students think and some tips for further reading.
Your relationship with your son or daughter whilst they are at university overseas is a complex and delicate matter:
- Staying close can deliver tremendous support but also bring with it a sense of expectation.
- Letting go can give them the freedom to make new friends and to become independent but could leave them feeling isolated and lacking support.
- WhatsApp, Facebook and other Social Media are helpful ways of keeping in touch – provided you don’t bombard them!
- Support comes in many forms: emotional, financial, psychological, spiritual and practical and it’s important to recognise what type of support they need in different circumstances.
- Try to persuade your son/daughter that it’s OK to ask for help when they need it.
- Some international students may feel lonely and stressed simply because they are far from home, which impacts on their academic performance.
- This may make them more likely to fail or pull out, so it is important for you to stay positive and encouraging.
These are the things that parents of international students worry most about, so make sure you talk to your son or daughter about them before they leave to start their course. Helping your son or daughter with a few key life skills like budgeting, a few simple recipes, doing the laundry and being fair about the cleaning will make life much easier for them.
Most of the information and advice in the articles and resources listed below is aimed at the students, rather than their parents, but suggesting to your son or daughter that they take a look will help them prepare themselves for the big changes ahead.
- The Independent – ‘Here is what a professor wants you to know before you send your child off to university’
- Future Learn – ‘Preparing for Uni’
- Times Higher Education – Student blog: ‘5 tips to make the most of your university experience’
- Times Higher Education – Student blog: ‘what to expect at university’
Supporting our students is central to everything we do. We understand that living away from home as an international student can seem daunting and that it takes some extra adjustment and care. At UON our support for students was officially classified as ‘outstanding’ when the UK government assessed our provision, so our Student Information Desk, located on the ground floor of the Learning Hub, should be the first port of call if your child has a question or a problem. Our helpful staff will attempt to resolve problems immediately, if possible, or make appointments with the right team to provide the necessary help and advice.
Student Support Services
To settle any last-minute nerves we contact all new starters to offer pre-departure briefing sessions and send Getting Started guides in the run-up to arrival.
Once enrolled, our comprehensive support package for students includes Work and Employability, Academic Support, Wellbeing, Study Support, Campus Services and University living, and a dedicated International Student Support Team. Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health, and if your child is experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties our Counselling and Mental Health Team offers drop-in sessions and one-to-one appointments.
Please note, however, that under UK Data Protection laws, our staff cannot discuss any aspect of your child’s experience here at UON with you unless they provide written permission, so you might want to encourage them to provide their consent to allow us to discuss things with you.
“When I arrived on campus the Accommodation team really helped me to settle in and showed me great hospitality.
There are lots of services. The Learning Development Team can help you with your essays, from how to structure them to referencing to study skills, and they provide you with one-to-one tutorials and with drop-in sessions.
You also have a personal tutor on hand to offer support and guidance, not just academically; they can also give personal and moral support and will find time to meet you and point you in the direction of teams who can provide additional support.”
Nur Asima Abdul Malik, BA Early Childhood Studies, Malaysia
We are proud to have a multi-ethnic community at the University with many faith groups. Operating as a part of Student Services, we have a Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Team drawn from a number of faith traditions and works for the benefit of all students, regardless of faith, belief, sexuality, or gender. Students are welcome to drop in at any time to talk, meet with others, pray or simply enjoy some quiet time.
English language support
As an international or EU student you have to deal with the language and culture which may be unfamiliar to you whilst quickly adapting to studying in this new environment. Our Educational Linguistics Team is here to support you. They can advise you on how to read academic literature effectively and how to use information obtained from reading to write critically and effectively. You can book an individual one-to-one session with them or to attend their workshops and seminars. Please watch their introductory session and find out more.
Teaching and Learning
Our focus is on the application of learning, rather than simply acquiring knowledge through mass lectures. So we have smaller class sizes, where students can interact in greater depth with peers and their teachers. In addition to International Student Support Services, all students have a Personal Tutor for advice and can also approach the Students Union for independent advice and support, if they prefer to do so.
First year international students can apply to live in our halls of residence and the Residential Life Team is on hand to support students throughout their time in halls and help them feel at home. Head over to our Accommodation pages for full details.
UON in your Country
We have a wide network of approved advisers around the world and a number of Regional Offices, all of which can provide advice and guidance about coming to Northampton. For country specific guidance, please refer to our UON in Your Country pages.
Is it safe?
Student safety is always our priority. We have a 24/7 University Security Team and a campus Police team for complete peace of mind on campus. Access to all facilities above ground floor level is restricted to ID card holders.
Northampton is also a three-times Purple Flag winner meaning our town centre offers a “diverse, safe and entertaining evening economy.”*
*Association of Town and City Management, 2018, 2019 and 2020
To discover everything Northampton has to offer, from social life to food and drink to local treasures, take a look at our guide to Northamptonshire.
Cost of living
Although just one hour from London by train and close to other major cities such as Birmingham, Leicester and Oxford, Northampton offers a far more affordable life-style. Northampton’s overall cost of living is 63% lower than London. The overall monthly living costs for one person are 30% lower in Northampton than the UK average and renting a studio for one in the private sector is 25% cheaper.*
International students can also work part-time for up to 20 hours a week, which can help to meet living costs.
Our generous scholarships help to reduce the cost of tuition fees.
Our Financial Guidance team offer free support to all students with any financial concerns.
“I liked that Northampton was close to London but smaller and safe. Northampton has lots of parks and is cheap compared to other cities in the UK. I’ve made great friends – as I came here without my family, I’ve become close to my fellow students.”
Radka Blažíčková, BA Fashion (Textiles for Fashion), Czech Republic
Every parent hopes their child’s time at university will be problem-free but sadly, that’s not always the case. Encourage your son or daughter to make themselves familiar with the support systems listed above and to make use of them, if necessary, while they are with us. Getting involved with the social life of the University and town through sports clubs, societies, faith groups and the like will help build support networks your son or daughter can turn to for support, should they need it. The University Counselling Service is also available to support students.
UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs) offers very comprehensive advice and information for international students and parents on a wide range of topics, including how to deal with Culture shock and Reverse culture shock.
Other useful sources of information include:
- Student Minds – ‘Support for parents’
- Irish Times – Ask the Expert: ‘My son seems very unhappy at university’
- International Student – ‘Budgeting’