How Aston University is helping its international students gain a competitive edge in the workplace | Top Universities

How Aston University is helping its international students gain a competitive edge in the workplace

By Aisha Khan

Updated July 6, 2023 Updated July 6, 2023

In today’s competitive job market, studying at a university with substantial careers support is arguably just as important as the degree itself.   

Located in the heart of Birmingham, the UK’s second biggest city, Aston University is home to more than 3,000 international students from over 120 countries.  

In addition to being one of the most diverse universities in the UK, Aston University also places a high emphasis on employability initiatives and work placements throughout each course. 

We spoke to Dannie Barnicle from Aston University, a careers consultant for international students, to learn more about how they’re helping their graduates launch their careers with confidence.  

Dedicated support for international students 

Employability session for international students

Barnicle works as a career's consultant for international students specifically. Along with employer engagement, marketing, and events specialists in the team, they’re supporting international students as soon as they receive their offer.  

“We deliver bespoke language and cultural sessions to our offer holders. For example, we bring our international alumni and students together to talk about tips and advice while studying at Aston and settling into UK culture,” she said.  

In terms of careers support, working with in-country agents and regional managers has helped the team to embed employability understanding and outline UK labour market expectations earlier on, especially for their international postgraduate students. 

“We share UK labour market intelligence, knowledge about graduate schemes and an understanding about the UK recruitment process before they start their course, so that they can get a head start on applications.” 

Barnicle also collaborates with the visa department and Centre for English Language to deliver tailored workshops across all three teams. “We’re enabling students to understand how these skills transfer into employment, so that when they’re applying for work placements during their course, they have a better success rate of securing those roles.” 

International students continue receiving support after graduating 

International students at Aston University

“Our support doesn’t stop when students reach the end of their course as our graduate team will work with students for up to three years post-graduation. We understand that, as an international student, the transition from student to professional can be difficult, with multiple decisions to consider and a new environment to navigate,” she said.  

Tailored sessions are offered to all international students who have recently graduated, including topics such as legal issues, advice on housing, mental health and looking at all employment options: UK, home and elsewhere. 

“We want to showcase the sense of belonging that international students have at Aston and ensure that they feel supported in all aspects, which we hope feeds into their professional success.” 

Participation in wider employability initiatives  

Employability session for international students

Aside from the above, there are further opportunities for international students to work on improving their careers prospects.  

Employability is an important part of their offer for students. Work experience is offered to all students, whether this is a year-long undergraduate placement, or shorter assessed work experiences for postgraduate students. 

“Students also have opportunities to engage with organisations through careers fairs, employer workplace visits, employer-led assessment centres and business consultancy clinics. This provides students with an understanding of the world of work, making sure their learning is relevant, practical, adaptable and embedded,” Barnicle said.  

An example of this is the REACTION 24/7 partnership, a free, online programme which consists of sessions with high-profile speakers and employers. 

“These interactive workshops ensure that participating students are able to celebrate themselves and their differences and have the tools they need to progress in their careers, whilst also enhancing their university journey.” 

Aston is also on a mission to help level the playing field in terms of differential graduate outcomes, ensuring that students from all backgrounds reach their graduate potential.  

“Alongside offering a wide range of work experience opportunities, we work with employers to ensure recruitment processes are inclusive and attract diverse candidates.  

“We offer sessions to help build confidence and resilience and encourage students to get involved in a range of networking and mentoring opportunities.” 

With their significant focus on employability, it’s no surprise that 77 percent of their students go into further study or a professional level job within 15 months of graduating.  

Apply with QS to find your dream university  

You can apply to study abroad with a QS counsellor in one simple application.   

Whether you’re interested in applying to Aston University, or to several more top-ranked institutions around the world, our QS counsellors will help you understand the various application processes in different countries, provide guidance on visas and scholarships, and sometimes they can even apply on your behalf.  

It’s free to apply with us. Apply now.  

This article was originally published in June 2023 . It was last updated in July 2023

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