Richer for itThe positive social, cultural and educational impactinternational students have on ScotlandThe social, cultural and educational impact international students have on Scotland
Scottish universities have a very strong record ofattracting international students and have theworld-leading teaching and research credentialsneeded to compete successfully in a fiercelycompetitive and truly global recruitmentenvironment. State of the art facilities andequipment, dedicated teaching staff and a worldrenownedreputation for research are all key tothe sector’s distinctiveness. Scotland’s universitieshave a strong commitment to ensuring thatoverseas students, alongside UK students, receivean excellent academic and cultural experiencethat will enhance their personal and professionaldevelopment. Our international students reallyvalue their experience with 91 per cent saying theyare very satisfied with their experience.The business and economic dimension ofinternational students tends to dominate in mediaand policy circles but the true value of internationalstudents is much greater than can be quantifiedin monetary terms alone. The social, culturaland educational benefits gained from havinginternational students study and live with us areimmense. This is something I see every day at myown institution, the University of Aberdeen wherewe have over 120 nationalities represented, and Iknow to be the case at every university in Scotland.As part of the country’s drive to secure its placein the global economy, Scotland is seeking a flowof talent to flourish alongside native born Scots.Thirteen per cent of the total student body inScotland in 2011-12 per cent were international(non-EU students) compared to 12 per cent of thetotal students in the UK.International alumni contribute to the spread andreach of Scottish universities. Scottish universitiestrain the next generation of business leadersand policy influencers and many of our formerstudents have gone on to become our partnersand ambassadors for Scottish higher education andScotland more widely, and leaders in their owncountries. For example, an Aberdeen graduate, GailPrudenti, is now a leading US judge and of coursethe newly installed President of Iran is a graduate ofGlasgow Caledonian University.International recruitment is hugely important toour institutions and to Scotland, and is part ofthe comprehensive internationalisation agendathat is sweeping through our institutions. Theinternationalisation of our teaching, of ourcurriculum, of our campuses, of our research andnearly all of our business is something that thesector is embracing and is developing rapidly.This agenda is a prerequisite for a truly global andcompetitive higher education sector in Scotland.Professor Sir Ian DiamondPrincipal & Vice-Chancellor of the University ofAberdeen & Convener of Universities Scotland’sInternational Committee
“At Britain’s fifth oldest university, where20 per cent of the students are foreign,students from other countries are morethan just a welcome addition to our studentbody; they are integral to making Aberdeenan international institution.The presence of a significant number ofinternational students contributes to theinternationalisation of the curriculum aswell as the promotion of foreign languages.Important social and cultural benefits alsoresult from close integration of nationalitiesincluding increased confidence and widerhorizons in our student body as well as thecreation of lasting friendships.Learning in a diverse and multiculturaluniversity environment, as provided inScotland’s universities, has the potentialto give our home students and graduatesa richer educational experience. It allowsfor the exchange of different perspectives,values, experiences and beliefs which cancontribute to the development of a globaloutlook.Studies examining the impact of diversityon students and educational outcomeshave provided evidence that diversityhas a positive impact on all students. 1Development of new perspectives andimprovements in critical thinking – twotremendously important attributes ina modern, global economy – are keyeducational benefits of learning in anenvironment which offers interactions withinternational peers both inside and outsideof the classroom.1University of Arizona literature review, How do diverseand inclusive learning environments benefit students?Every classroom discussion is immeasurablyenhanced by the range of perspectivesbrought by these students. When wediscuss gender, politics, economic systems,attitudes to minorities, religious history orjust accepted social norms the studentsconstantly challenge one another’spreconceptions simply because they havedifferent preconceptions.We want our students to be innovative andprepared for employment in a globalisedworld. Whether sitting in classrooms,sharing digs, eating a meal together orjust chatting late at night over a pint, ourdiverse mix of students ensures that ourgraduates go into the world with mindsopen to new ideas and approaches awarethat their ideas are the product of theirculture as are the ideas of the people theyare working with or just meeting. What theylack is the mantra that ‘we’ve always doneit that way’ and the blinkers that makepeople think their way is the ‘only way’, the‘best way’.Students can learn about other cultures,differing approaches and assumptionshatteringideas in theory in a classroomfull of students like themselves taught bystaff also like them or they can attend auniversity with students from over 120countries and learn the same lessons inpractice inside and outside the classroom.I know which best prepares our studentsfor a globalised career and gives ourstudents and our society the edge in aglobally competitive market – a widelymixed student body drawn from hundredsof nations and cultures taught by an equallydiverse staff.”
“GCU has a hugely diverse student population and I firmlybelieve mixing with international students throughoutmy degree in Fashion Business pushed me to broaden myinternational perspective in every way.I found when learning about international companies orcase studies, having a student from another country in theclassroom was ideal. It made the work far more relevant andreal and they brought their own experiences from their countrywhich we may not ordinarily have had the opportunity to learnabout.I have French friends I met in halls in first year who I still keepin touch with. They inspired me to study abroad and I spent anexciting and dynamic month at a summer school programmeat their university in Paris with students from across the world.I learned about French history and culture but also mixed withstudents from Brazil, Mexico, Spain and America for four weeksof crazy, diverse and fun learning.I have gained a huge amount from the diversity within myuniversity experience. Having these experiences as a studenthas genuinely made me who I am today; someone who Ibelieve is globally aware, enjoys mixing with people fromacross the world, is excited by other cultures and experiencesand who isn’t afraid to face the global business environmentwe live in today.”The British Council affirms that:“Cultural exchange provokes new modesof thinking, doing, learning and sharing;in short cultural exchange helps us toinnovate. As transnational and globalproblems proliferate, so we need moreinnovation to meet the challenges.“Seeing problems through othercultures and asking questions promptedby different cultural practices andperspectives will help provide answers….Creativity happens where differencemeets and contact between culturesis characterised by flux, stimulation,plurality and diversity”. 22British Council (2013) Influence and Attraction:Culture and the Race for Soft Power in the 21stCentury, p32
Cultural diversity itself does not automatically lead to an enhancement of thelearning process, as research commissioned by the Higher Education Academy(HEA) points out. 3 The process needs to be more strategic, as is the case inScotland.Universities have prioritised the internationalisation of their curricula as partof work to ensure that potential benefits from a diverse student body are fullyrealised. Working collaboratively, every university in Scotland has recognisedthat “global citizenship” is an important attribute in a graduate of the twentyfirstcentury. Opportunities to develop this have been built in to learningand teaching strategies across the sector. At a sector level global citizenshipis described as “encouraging a capacity to thrive in a globalised society andeconomy, and an awareness of cultures beyond and different to one’s own” 4although each institution interprets this in their own way, as shown in tableone.“QMU aspires to develop graduates who…are mindful of their role as global citizens,contributing positively to society at local,national or international levels.”“Global in outlook and thinkinginternationally.”“Citizenship is one of the themes which isdefined as: Globally confident, giving back tothe community, making a difference to people’slives, helping others, adapting well to change.“GCU prides itself on producing globalgraduates, who make a difference in thecommunity. Employers like to see that youaren’t afraid to travel, can adapt to differentcultures and have an understanding thatextends beyond the UK, and a social conscienceoutside of the workplace.”“Active Citizenship which includes: anawareness and appreciation of ethical andmoral issues; an awareness and appreciation ofsocial and cultural diversity; an understandingof social and civic responsibilities, and of therights of individuals and groups;… a readinessfor citizenship in an inclusive society.”3Arafat, Forrester, Pencheva, Postive Impacts of Multicultural Environments, commissioned by theHigher Education Academy.4In Scotland, work to incorporate Global Citizenship as a graduate attribute is part of the uniqueEnhancement Themes process to which all of Scotland’s universities subscribe. The definition cited istaken from the sector-wide graduate attributes framework.
The combination of a strategic focus oninternationalisation and a large internationalstudent population is mutually reinforcing.A UK-wide survey of undergraduate studentssuggests that the sector in Scotland is gettingthis right.When asked in a survey by the British Council ifthey thought they had an international outlook,73 per cent of undergraduate students in Scotlandthought they did to some or a large extentcompared to 63 per cent of students at universityin England 5 (Graph one).International students also find the experienceof studying at Scotland’s universities to be amulticultural learning experience. 90.5 per centof international students surveyed in the 2011International Student Barometer (ISB) said theywere satisfied with the multiculturalism of theirlearning experience. A score of 90.5 per cent wasjudged by i-graduate to indicate multiculturalismwas: “important to students and higher educationinstitutions are performing well”. 6Scotland’s universities have improved theirperformance on this measure in the last threesuccessive ISB surveys, reflecting the priority givento this in recent years (Graph 2).Graph 1: Proportion of students believing they holdan international outlook (%)Percentage %80706050403020100Graph 2: Student satisfaction with the multiculturallearning experience in Scottish universities (%)100EnglandScotlandA global outlook matters to employers and istherefore an important asset for home studentsto have acquired whilst at university. Seventy-nineper cent of business leaders said that knowledgeand awareness of the wider world was importantto them when recruiting undergraduates and 85per cent said they valued employees that couldwork with customers, clients and companies froma range of cultures and countries. 7Percentage %8060402002006 2008 20116I-graduate International Student Barometer 2006, 2008 & 20117Think Global & British Council (2011) Global Skills Gap: Preparingyoung people for the new global economy.5
Thirty-nine per cent of businesses surveyed bythe British Council thought it was important foremployees to be able to speak another language inaddition to English. New and flexible opportunitiesfor language provision are being created as a formalpart of the curriculum at many institutions but inaddition, some of Scotland’s student associationsrecognise the potential that exists within thesizeable presence of international students oncampus to help address the growing demand forbi- and multilingualism.Run by the Student Association since 2007Tandem promotes the learning of languagesthrough an exchange service; effectively matchmakingtwo students that can help each otherlearn or improve their language skills in a relaxedand social atmosphere.Credit: Sophie DawesOver 700 students actively use Tandem’s onlinedatabase service which has made 420 successfulconnections between students. Lively SpeedLingua evenings are held throughout the yearas a sociable way to bring students together tofind the right language match for them. The bestoutcome is when two students come together,both of whom want to teach and to learn.Tandem also hosts weekly Language Cafés, anEnglish Language Café, and a vibrant Spanishspeakingcommunity as part of its activities. Theinitiative also promotes the integration of homeand international students. Student feedbackhas been extremely positive with studentscommenting that it offers a “sociable and naturalway to learn a language”.
A student participates in theOne RGU Many Nations Carnivalat Robert Gordon UniversityOutside of the lecture halls, seminar roomsand laboratories, universities and their studentassociations offer a wealth of opportunity for theintegration of students from different culturesand nationalities.Research in the UK on the positive impactsof multiculturalism in higher education,commissioned by the Higher EducationAcademy, suggests the benefits students gainfrom a multicultural university are as much todo with the “informal socialisation” offeredby the campus environment, the plethora ofstudent societies and social activities hostedby universities as from the formal learningexperience in classroom and internationalisationof the curriculum.“Students are not merely empty vessels acceptingwhat they are taught through their degree’scurriculum. The alteration of a student’s normsand values whilst at university is an interactiveprocess based on not only what they are taughtin lectures and how they respond in essays andseminars, but also through interaction withother students. Informal interactions with otherstudents in social and sports societies works inconjunction with formal interactions in classroomenvironments to facilitate this socialisation.” 88Arafat et al. Postive Impacts of Multicultural EnvironmentsOpportunities for interaction, and celebrations ofcultural diversity, are in abundance in Scotland’suniversities.Robert Gordon University held the first One RGU,Many Nations Carnival in April 2013. The internationalshowcase event included a day-long exhibition ofnations where students organised stalls with music,food, activities, games and information about theircountry. Countries represented included Ghana, Iran,Indonesia, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria,Hungary, Sweden, Latvia, and Japan. The highlight of theevent was a large cultural showcase in the evening withmusic, dancing, poetry, costume displays, and a fashionshow of different national dresses. The showcase wasseen by hundreds of students from Aberdeen as well asuniversity staff and many visitors from the community.Edward Pollock, a student at Robert Gordon Universityand head of the carnival planning committee said:“we are hoping to continue this tradition and expandthe project and ensure that Robert Gordon Universitycontinues to promote internationalism and provideopportunities for students to learn and interact betweentheir cultures”. The Carnival was held with support fromthe International Aberdeen Welcome – a joint initiativebetween Robert Gordon University and the University ofAberdeen which is funded by the Scottish Government.Support for the event also came from the RGU Union.
Student societiesThere are nearly a thousand student societies andover 500 sports clubs across Scotland’s universitieswith thousands of student members includinginternational students.Student clubs and societies in Scotland receive oneof the highest satisfaction scores from internationalstudents and student associations report a highlevel of participation from a diverse range ofnationalities making societies a great way forstudents of different backgrounds to get to knoweach other.The National Union of Students has been keento promote the internationalisation of studentassociations and developed a toolkit in 2011 whichfocussed, in part, on increasing the opportunitiesfor international and home students to engagewith each other. 9 Many of the initiatives featuredthroughout this report are student-led, with thesupport of student associations, which suggests astrong appetite for integration.Of the 1,000 societies in Scottish institutions,approximately 150 are focussed around specificnationalities, religious affiliations or culturalidentities. This includes some whose goal isspecifically designed to promote integration.INTERSOC (international society) at the Universityof Aberdeen is a good example of this. With over730 recorded members in 2011, students from 63different countries, including the UK, take part in arange of social activities organised by INTERSOC.Integration between home and internationalstudents has seen continuous improvement. Figuresfrom the ISB show that international students’satisfaction with ‘host friends’ (i.e. friends fromScotland) has risen by more than ten percentagepoints in the last six years to a satisfaction level of74 per cent. This is two per cent higher than theaverage satisfaction score for ‘host friends’ reportedfor 16 other countries that take part in the ISB. 10The University’s Culture Club evolved from otherinternationally-focussed projects and a desire bythe Students Representative Council to promoteintegration and interaction on a larger scale, in asocial setting, and in a way that would appeal tomore ‘home’ students.Led by the Culture Club coordinators, currently aCanadian and Lithuanian student, club volunteersmeet regularly to devise strategies for four or fiveculturally-themed events throughout the academicyear. The intention is that international and homestudents work together to promote interactionand integration on campus through cultural eventswhich can be promoted to the rest of the studentbody and, on occasion, to the local community.Burns Night and Chinese New Year celebrations,which involved a traditional dragon danceon campus in cooperation with the GlasgowUniversity Confucius Institute, have been sell-outsuccesses.9 National Union of Students (2011) Building an InternationalisedStudents Union: HE Toolkit10 I-graduate, International Student Barometer (2006-2011)
Every year, the University of Edinburgh’s International Office run aHospitality Scheme which aims to put international students in touchwith local people, usually families. The scheme acts as platform forinternational students to learn more about life in Scotland, practicetheir English and get a perspective on local traditions and customs.In turn, hosts have the opportunity to discover another culture andway of life which can be a very positive experience for families withchildren.The scheme has attracted many hosts amongst local residents,keen to learn from the students about their home countries. Hostsare volunteers from the local community, offering a bit of time andfriendship and sharing their knowledge and life experience of the localarea and of Scotland more broadly to one or several internationalstudents from all over the world. Hosts and students can simply meetover a cup of coffee once or twice a year or meet more regularly. Hostfamilies and international students often celebrate the festive seasontogether, another opportunity to get to know each other, discover newtraditions and expand culinary experiences.The scheme is very popular amongst international students. Thenumber of local international students and hosts taking part is setto nearly double from last year, up to around 100 hosts benefittingfrom this community befriending scheme. It is not unusual for localresidents to sign up for the scheme year on year and many maintaincontact with their students well after the students have graduated.Over the years, some Edinburgh hosts have visited their formerinternational guests in their home country and met their families.Some have even received invitations to attend weddings!
International students are keen to integrateinto their local communities and in return localcommunities have much to gain from them. Thereare many projects and volunteering schemes inplace across Scotland which give internationalstudents an opportunity to share their culturalheritage through public engagement activities.Pupils at sixteen primary schools across Edinburghand East Lothian had the opportunity to learnlanguages and experience different culturesthanks to a project led by the Languages ThinkTank involving international students at university.Students from the University of Edinburgh andQueen Margaret University Edinburgh took part inthe original pilot and there are plans to expand thisto include other universities.Heriot-Watt University plans to work with theScotland China Education Network (SCEN) anduniversity students from China to reach Primary 1classes in six schools in East Lothian, focussing onMandarin. A similar project to the original pilot isbeing developed by the University of Aberdeen inassociation with Aberdeen City Council.The project was assessed by Her Majesty’sInspectorate of Education which commented on theenthusiasm of international student participants:“All of the students had joined the project for verypositive reasons. They wanted to ‘give somethingback’ to the Scottish education system”.Dr Judith McClure, Convener of SCEN said: “I thinkthis concept has huge potential. It is excellent inthat it can be done now, the primary class teachertakes the lead in teaching methods, and there is ayoung international student as a native speaker andproponent of a native culture. Many internationalstudents are keen to find this sort of experiencein a primary school, giving them valuable workexperience and helping their integration into thelocal community”.13
This is a powerful and positive force for any nation.A recent report by the British Council argues that“educational exchanges are generally acknowledgedto be one of the most powerful and long-lastinginfluences on attitudes”. 11“Soft power” is a term used increasingly ininternational relations and public diplomacy. Aterm first coined by Professor Joseph Nye in the1990s, soft power refers to the global reach andinternational perception of each country. Educationwas part of Nye’s original set of ‘cultural resources’and its ability to determine a nation’s soft powerhas been more widely recognised since then.Monocle, which conducts an annual survey rankingnations according to their soft power considershigher education to be a highly significant factor:“The ability of a country to attract foreign students,or facilitate exchanges, is a powerful tool ofpublic diplomacy… Prior research on educationalexchanges gives empirical evidence for thereputational gains for a host country when foreignstudents return home.” 12In 2011 Monocle’s analysis placed the UK secondin the world for the soft power acquired as a resultof its higher education sector. Monocle does notdisaggregate results for nations within the UK but itis reasonable to believe that Scotland would scoreas well, if not better, on soft power acquired fromeducation if it was rated on its own merits. 13This attests to the important role that internationalstudents play in shaping Scotland’s place in theworld.Scotland’s universities had a lasting impact onalumni Elizabeth Ewan and Duo Long and in turnhas delivered a lasting return for Scotland. Bothwomen have shaped their careers since universityaround Scotland’s outward or inward culturalexchange. 1411Influence and Attraction: Culture and the Race for Soft Power inthe 21st Century (2013) British Council, p2712Institute for Government (2011) The New Persuaders II, p11.13Based on the number of international students and global universityrankings as set out in Monocle’s educational sub-index.14British Council (2013) Influence and Attraction, p19“When I arrived at St Andrews University to startthe third year of my undergraduate degree, I hadno idea that this move would determine my future.The enthusiasm of my Scottish history instructors,and the rich panoply of medieval history covered ina course on the Middle Ages, together developed inme a passion for medieval Scottish history. Living inSt Andrews itself, with reminders of the medievalpast everywhere one turned, was a fascinatingexperience for a New World student. I returned toCanada for my final year, hooked on Scotland and itshistory.In 1980 I returned to Scotland to begin a doctoraldegree in Scottish history at Edinburgh University.I studied the social history of fourteenth-centuryScottish towns. Edinburgh, with its NationalArchives and National Library, is a historian’s delightand I have never tired of spending time there,no matter how often I return (and that has beenalmost annually since completing my degree).In 1985 I began an academic career in Canadateaching history. In 1988 I moved to the Universityof Guelph in Ontario, home to North America’soldest programme in Scottish Studies, and I havebeen there, promoting Scotland and its history andculture, ever since.At Guelph I have used the passion for Scottishhistory I developed as an international studentto enthuse new students about the study ofScotland’s past. Many have become internationalstudents themselves, and some now teach inScottish universities. Scottish Studies is dedicated
to spreading knowledge beyond theacademy and engages in wide-reachingcommunity activities, including publictalks on Scottish history and culture,conferences bringing Scottish academicsand cultural visitors to Canada, andevents showcasing the culture ofmodern Scotland as well as its history.In 2004, the programme created thefirst endowed Professorship in ScottishStudies in North America. Since then, wehave developed links with the Scottishgovernment and its representativesin Canada, hosting Governmentministers, and facilitating contactbetween Scotland and the Scottish-Canadian diaspora. We have exchangeagreements with many Scottishuniversities, bringing Scottish studentsto Canada and Canadian students toScotland. In 2009, as part of the Yearof Homecoming, I helped organise theScottish Diaspora Forum held at theScottish Parliament, examining howScotland could strengthen its culturaland economic links with the diaspora.I return most years to research thehistory of medieval Scottish women,and to follow contemporary events, andI bring the results back to a Canadianaudience eager to learn about thecountry, both to maintain old ties and tocreate new ones”.“Even though I was having a great life in China, the idea ofreturning to make Scotland my home was always in my head.The time I spent in Scotland was wonderful and unforgettable,the friendly people, the fascinating history and culture, thebeautiful landscape, and so much more that Scotland has tooffer. Much to my delight, a great job opportunity turned up andI moved back to Glasgow in July 2009.When the Confucius Institute at the University of Glasgowopened in October 2011, good luck knocked at my door again - Iwas offered the post of Manager. It is a brilliant job and givesme the benefit of working across cultures which I am alwayspassionate about. We actively promote the Chinese language andculture to the local community in Glasgow and beyond, I can seethe influence it has on people especially the young generationfrom the exposure to China and its language and culture.As a Scottish alumnus I am very proud of what I am doing andvery grateful for having the privilege of working and living inScotland. If you are wondering how much I am fond of Scotlandand Scottish people, here is a little information - I married a Scotlast year. I would very much hope more and more internationalstudents can benefit from their experience in Scotland, as well asenjoy Scottish Ceilidhs as I do.”
CEO and Chairman of the successful multi-milliondollar construction company Cebarco Bahrain,Khalid graduated from Glasgow CaledonianUniversity with a Masters in ConstructionManagement in 2005.During his time at GCU, Khalid’s company Cebarcoundertook the ambitious project of building theBahrain International Formula 1 Circuit which hadto be completed in 16 months. Khalid attributedin part the success of this project, and the rapidgrowth of his business, to his time at GCU and hisongoing relationship with the University.In 2009, in recognition of this success, and tohighlight the benefit of learning in an internationalcontext, Khalid made the generous donation of£250,000 over a period of five years to establish theKhalid Abdul Rahim Construction Scholarship Fund.It benefits construction and environment studentsin the School of Engineering and Built Environmentby supporting a range of activities including prizes,scholarships and international study tours to theUAE, Canada and Finland.The international study tours have providedGCU students with unique opportunities toreinforce their academic study by visiting overseasconstruction companies where they gain valuableinsight into the commercial application of theirdegrees. Major construction companies in theMiddle East and North America – including ECHarris and Jacobs – have welcomed GCU studentsby arranging visits to key projects and deliveringpresentations which give an insight into theirbusinesses and the range of graduate opportunitiesavailable. The Khalid Abdul Rahim ConstructionScholarship Fund has also enabled GCU to developa network of international industry contacts andpartners.So far 96 students who have been identified asfuture leaders by academics have benefited fromKhalid’s generous support.BSc student Michael Roy used the scholarship totravel to Indonesia in South East Asia to share hisbuilding conservation expertise, working closelywith the Indonesian Heritage Trust and the PDA,Indonesia’s Architectural Documentation Centre.Michael has since been invited to return toIndonesia to present his dissertation on applyingScottish expertise in a developing country.He said: “It was a fantastic opportunity toexperience a new culture and enhance myeducation. The organisations I worked with wereincredibly welcoming and keen to learn fromScotland’s specialist knowledge in this field andI hope that GCU can continue to build on thoserelationships”.Michael’s experience as a result of the Khalid AbdulRahim Construction Scholarship Fund is just one ofmany examples where education, resources andknowledge are used to empower communities athome and overseas.
“My education changed mylife. I went to Aberdeen tostudy before being admittedto Edinburgh College ofCommerce (now EdinburghNapier University) to studyManagement and Marketing.My newly acquired Scottishhigher education helped me tosecure a managerial positionimmediately after returninghome to Hong Kong. If I hadnot been giventhe opportunity to studyin Scotland, my career wouldhave been very uncertain.“I used much of what I learntas a marketing managementstudent in Scotland, and turneda small shipping company intoan organisation with a networth of £25 million.Following a managementbuy-out in 2000, I now ownan international shipping andlogistics company which doesbusiness with 86 countriesworldwide, has 530 staff and27 offices throughout HongKong and the mainland China.”It is not just Professor Ho’s owncareer that has been shapedby his educational experiencein Scotland. An admirer of thehigh quality education offered inScotland, Professor Ho is keen topromote British, and in particularScottish, education to Hong Kongstudents.“My education arm MacGregorEducation recruits Hong Kongstudents to further their studiesin the UK. MacGregor Educationhas successfully sent 74 highschool students and 104 universitystudents to the UK, of which 74students have gone to study inScotland.”Professor Ho is also founderand a trustee of the EdinburghUniversity Scholarship Trust.The scholarship trust selectsacademically brilliant Hong Kongstudents for whom internationalstudy would not be possiblewithout a scholarship.A life member of the HongKong St. Andrew’s Society anda GlobalScot, Professor Ho alsohelps Scottish students andgraduates to study and work inHong Kong. He has employed sixScots over the years to work in hisglobal shipping company.Kerry Bryson, Director of Development and ExternalAffairs at the University of Stirling says:“Two years ago the University of Stirling launchedits Alumni Ambassador Programme, creating aspectrum of involvement opportunities for ouralumni. A hugely successful scheme, 250 alumnivolunteers, of which almost half were from alumniliving outside the UK, have taken part. Alumnisign up to deliver at least one core element of theprogramme: supplying career profiles, mentoringcurrent students, assisting at internationalrecruitment fairs or organising alumni reunions intheir local area”.From Japan, Dr Taeko Seki (PhD, 2004) activelypromotes Scotland in Japan and was the first femalemember of Global Scot in Japan. She set upa successful University of Stirling Japanese AlumniAssociation which has over 200 members as well asencouraging Japanese students to study in Stirlingthrough the Taeko Seki Overseas Scholarship.From Cyprus, Maria Hadjivassiliou (MSc MediaManagement, 2009) Stirling’s most recent AlumniAmbassador of the Year said: “I am glad I have theopportunity to keep in touch with my University bybecoming an ambassador as well as a mentor fornew students”.Anastasia Kiourkatioti (MSc Public Relations,1995) based in Athens, said: “I owe my careerto the University of Stirling and acquired projectmanagement, teamwork and research skills – andI have now passed on some real life tips to currentstudents wanting careers in PR”.
The social, cultural and educational benefits any country stands to gain fromrecruiting and hosting a diverse population of international students in itsuniversities is significant.The British Council recently advised Governments to pay as much attention toinward-facing cultural relations, by which it means receiving and learning aboutother cultures, as promoting their own culture to the rest of the world. This, itsaid, would produce a culturally literate and globally aware population.It is essential that the experience home students have at university in Scotlandis an internationally diverse and global one if they are to graduate fullyprepared for the closely-knit global world we live in today. Graduates who candemonstrate an international outlook, cultural sensitivity and language skillsare high in demand. Having a large and engaged population of internationalstudents, as Scotland’s universities are proud to say they do, is integral to thecreation of that experience.Inevitably Scottish students are likely to gain the most from their internationalpeers. Yet the positive social and cultural impacts reach beyond the university,into local communities, schools and neighbourhoods. International studentsalso build a host of links around the world which is to Scotland’s wider culturalbenefit.Scotland gains in all of these ways. And is richer for it.
Universities Scotland would like to thank the following organisations and groups for their help with thispublication:• UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)• NUS Scotland and students’ associations at universities across Scotland most notably EdinburghUniversity Students Association (EUSA).• The Scottish network of Development and Alumni offices and Scotland’s international alumnus whowere so eager to contribute their time and stories.• The staff at Scotland’s 19 universities and higher education institutions with particular thanks to staffin International Offices and Communications Offices.19