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We’re thrilled to share our brand-new International Students research project with you! Putting your thoughts and opinions in the center of our decision-making is what we do and we’re on a mission to explore, connect and expand our understanding of the experiences of our international student body.

Research Outcomes

Over 850 pieces of feedback were collected from international students from 67 countries across 6 continents throughout this three-phased research project. The research highlighted four key areas that international students were finding most challenging:

  • Practical and local information
  • Community building and meeting people
  • Settling in and adapting to British culture
  • Academic support

After collaborating with international students, we gathered valuable insights on how we can improve our support in these areas. Based on this feedback, we have put together a list of recommendations. We are currently in the planning stage to implement these changes and will keep you updated as we make progress.

You can read our full report here to explore our research findings.

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Key Objectives

  1. To understand what prospective international students envision when they choose Exeter as their academic home.  
  1. To explore the gap between these expectations and the reality students face upon their arrival and during their university journey.  
  1. To discover whether students feel they can shape our services and whether they see their reflections in the services we provide.  

Through these objectives, we aspire to create an enriching, inclusive, and empowering experience for all international students at the University of Exeter. Your insights and experience are invaluable in helping us achieve these aims and shaping the future of our services, so we encourage you to be an active part of this exciting journey!

Research Stages

We held our “Let’s Talk” sessions earlier in November to listen to concerns, gather ideas and understand your needs. We heard your stories and experiences at these sessions and gathered over 270 pieces of feedback in total!

From our discussions we discovered:

Main reasons our international students chose to study at Exeter were:

  • University’s reputation and high ranking
  • Exeter’s location and beautiful campus

The best things students mentioned about their experiences were:

  • Opportunity to meet new people.
  • The University’s location
  • Academic experiences (enthusiastic teaching staff and welcoming culture)

The worst things students mentioned about their experiences were:

  • The weather
  • Monotonous English classes
  • Cardiac Hill

A big thank you to everyone who approached our stalls over the last two weeks. Your feedback is invaluable, and it’ll play a crucial role in shaping the next steps of the research!

The survey explored topics that included international students' expectations before arrival, their reality once settled, and their views on representation. Over 500 responses were received from the University of Exeter’s international students from 67 countries across 6 continents.

The findings revealed that students have had positive experiences of feeling safe in Exeter, having clear routes to access support, enjoying events and activities, and being part of a supportive University community. However, there are also areas that need improvement such as practical support, meeting people, and academic experiences.  

We took these topics to our focus groups to better understand the key themes from the survey and to workshop actions that students want taken to enhance their experience.  

We spoke with 50 students in our focus groups (including some bilingual sessions) to better understand the biggest topics that arose in our survey and to explore opinions of student representation. We also worked with students to build actions that international students would like to see taken to improve their student experience.  

The recommendations were arranged into four themes:

  • Practical and local information
  • Community building and meeting people
  • Settling in and adapting to British culture
  • Academic support

To finalise the recommendations established in the focus groups, a workshop with the International Student Advisory Board was held.

The Guild and University are collaborating to bring these recommendations to life – you can keep checking back to keep up to date on our progress. The findings and student-led actions will also be used to inform the International Student Experience Strategy.