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Alex Fenton, Associate Professor and Associate Dean International for the Faculty of Science, Business and Enterprise, shares why the University of Chester is a great choice for international students in a brand-new episode of ‘The International Students Podcast’.

With Episode 25 out now, Alex chats with host Progress Oberiko about the University, our excellent employability results and support for international students.

Read more about the topics they discussed below!

What is it like to study at Chester?

From speaking to our current international students, Chester is a truly beautiful city with a long and fascinating history. You can see traces of the past all across Chester including the superb Roman walls that you can walk all around the city on, and the most spectacular cathedral where we hold our graduation ceremonies, which must be some of the grandest in the country, if not the world.

The University sites themselves have some fantastic historic buildings and green spaces. I work at our Queen’s Park site and it has to be one of the most impressive I’ve seen - it has all that history but is a modern building, with really spectacular views of the River Dee and a great, friendly vibe.

I often ask international students what they think about Chester and why they came, and I get a combination of answers. Of course, the opportunities to work and study in the UK are a big draw, but it was really interesting speaking to one of our international students recently who had heard that the other students from his home country studying at the University of Chester were all very happy - and thankfully he wasn’t disappointed either.

Furthermore, in the 2023 Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs), Chester was voted in the top five for University of the Year; Lecturers and Teaching Quality; University Halls; Postgraduate experience and Cost of Living support. The University gained a top ten place in nine categories and top 20 places in 11 categories - all the University was eligible to enter, based just on the student voice.

What does life after study look like for international students?

The University of Chester is known for being ambitiously employability-focused, providing opportunities such as work-based learning, placement opportunities and field trips.

The 2023 WUSCSAs placed Chester in the top ten for Career Prospects and likewise, the recent International Student Barometer Survey placed Chester number one for employability from 146 universities surveyed. So, we were number one for employment, support, advice, networking with alumni and more.

Chester also offers great opportunities for alumni to get involved as guest speakers, mentors and further study at Master’s or PhD or Professional Doctorate level. Our students can also use our careers service and receive our careers support after graduation. What this means is that Chester is an excellent place to study for any international students who are thinking about life after study.

What career/employment support is available at the University for international students? How can it be accessed?

Through Student Futures, the University’s Careers and Employability support service, we offer:

  • One-to-one advice and guidance.
  • A bespoke careers portal for international students.
  • Workshops, webinars, and videos.
  • Volunteer opportunities.
  • The Venture Programme - supporting students and graduates to become self-employed or freelance.
  • The Chester Difference Award - recognising efforts and skills across a variety of different extra-curricular activities.
  • A full range of electronic resources.
  • Our vacancy search engine.
  • Graduate peer mentoring.
  • Part-time jobs.

We also offer career and employability support built into the curriculum through real-world assessments, tutors and personal tutor support, placement modules and extra-curricular activities. This includes entrepreneurial opportunities such as Young Enterprise, Venture and working with organisations within the business industry to offer opportunities for our international students during and post-study at Chester.

How does the University support students with any challenges they may face?

We think that Chester and the University is an open-minded place to study and is welcoming to international students, with a growing and diverse community.

Talking to students and looking at comments in our recent survey, this supportive atmosphere comes through at all levels from tutors, personal tutors, fellow students, groups, and societies.

The International Student Barometer Survey showed that Chester is number one for value in cost-of-living, value of accommodation, financial support, social facilities, and events. In fact, we were placed first or second in 15 categories relating to support, mental health, finances and more.

Our central Student Support and Wellbeing Services provide support for disability and inclusion, wellbeing and mental health and counseling services for our students. We’re also, as the Barometer Survey shows, doing a lot to support students financially with the cost-of-living crisis. The University recognises how this crisis might affect our students. Therefore, we have put a combined package of direct support together, so that we can support our students who may be struggling with the cost of living.

We have put measures in place to support our students and put the resources behind a range of initiatives and interventions. From free hot drinks, subsidised meals, free social and fitness activities and direct funding, the University of Chester is working to ensure our students are supported as part of a safe community.

Does the University have any networks and support available for alumni?

Our faculties and alumni team offer a range of ways to keep connecting and supporting our graduates. As well as the access to careers support for alumni, they also produce a magazine, run events and networking opportunities for alumni, a graduate alumni mentoring service, and much more.

At graduation, our Vice-Chancellor always stresses the importance of alumni and that for our graduands it is the start of a new journey with the University, one that for many people will last a lifetime and friends are made for life.

The International Students Podcast episode is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcast and Podvine.

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