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Changes to UK Student Visas

Great news for overseas students! A change to visa rules will allow them to remain in the UK after studying.

Students who travel to the United Kingdom to pursue a range of qualifications have received some exciting news this academic year. From the year 2020-21, people with immigration status in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas will be able to take advantage of a new opportunity.

stem-degrees

The lowdown

The government in the UK has decided to consolidate its position in the burgeoning markets of science and technology. It will now allow individuals from abroad who wish to follow a path into employment to remain in the country following their graduate studies. For students from India as just one example, this will equate to approximately 50% of all educational visitors. The aim of this policy is to allow Britain to lead the markets – and the world – in the development and expansion of ideas into an ever changing future.

How will it work?

Students must first have a relevant qualification. Those whose status in the UK is linked to a place in a university or higher education establishment will then be able to transfer their visa to an employment (skilled work) visa. In order to do this they must find a job in a related, recognised field. Instead of facing restrictions and hurdles to gaining meaningful and relevant work opportunities in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland students will be rewarded for doing so. The government intend to have rigorous checks and criteria in place to ensure that those who are deserving, and who meet the requirements, are able to benefit from the new legislation.

Why now?

Brexit is just about all anyone can talk about in relation to the UK recently. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite appearances, that’s not the only priority announced by the recently appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Back in August, Mr Johnson ordered a review of the systems in place to incentivise the ‘top scientists’ to work here. The new visa plans are the culmination of this endeavour. In a speech he said that

“[even though] we continue to lead the way in the advancement of knowledge, we have to not only support the talent that we already have here, but also ensure our immigration system attracts the very best minds from around the world.”

This recognition of the world class international students attracted by the UK’s educational offering is good news for budding developers and innovators alike. From Newton to Darwin, the telephone to penicillin, Britain’s history is littered with crucial discoveries, developments and inventions. The aim is to continue this illustrious offering into the future of post-Brexit Britain.

How to take advantage of the changes

In opening up this opportunity, the UK government has created a series of new stipulations to maximise the results.

– Check whether the institution you wish to attend is one of the UK research institutes or universities that are authorised to endorse applications.

– Sign up to campus or graduate employment bureaus and agencies whilst studying in order to rollover or amend your student visa.

– Research additional funding that may be made available in your field for STEM based fields of investigation.

It could be you…

A British student has won the Nobel medicine prize, awarded in Stockholm, along with two US-born scientists for their research into the links between cellular processing of oxygen and the implications for advancements in treatments for debilitating diseases such as cancer. Such scientific boons are just the sort of acclaim the UK are hoping to replicate when the new ruling comes in. If you needed more reasons to study in the UK, maybe this could be it. You could add Nobel prize winner to your resume very soon!

Celebrating…World Mental Health Day 2019

Within the same week, World Teachers’ Day and World Mental Health Day are being celebrated. A crisis is being recognised around the world by educators and legislators alike, so continue reading for a short summary of services available at universities for students who need a little extra help managing their personal wellbeing.

Click here for the dedicated World Teachers’ Day article.

World Mental Health Day

Since 1992, World Mental Health Day has been celebrated on 10th October. It has become a day for awareness, campaigns and charity events which help to focus the public’s attention onto mental health issues.It is also an opportunity to flag up to the world exactly what has been done to support the vulnerable in our society…and to identify what still needs to be done.

On 9th September 2019, the World Health Organisation published an article claiming that due to a lack of awareness or legislated strategies to support the most in-need in a range of countries around the world, one person every 40 seconds are dying from their mental health. This may seem extreme or exaggerated but with suicide being the biggest killer of men aged 45 and under in the UK, it’s actually frighteningly true. Universities, colleges and schools are tackling the issues head on with a range of initiatives.

Student support

Every University will have a student services team that can assist you with day-to-day queries about life at University. Did you know that there are also dedicated people to support students when it all gets a bit too much, too? Harper Adams University in Shropshire recently won a UK accolade as the best University for student welfare. Perhaps due to the type of courses they offer – in farming and agricultural careers – there is a focus on integration and support for students. As 1 in 4 young women in the UK reported feeling lonely in modern society, this is clearly a necessary service being provided.

Online access to resources

The Unlonely Film Festival is an online festival in which students and budding auteurs can upload their content. The aim is to promote inclusivity and to share their experiences of loneliness. Run by the Unlonely Project, a group designed to use creative expression to combat loneliness, the festival is now in its third year and has gained the attention of television and written media alike. It’s been found that feeling isolated is as large a risk to health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Raising awareness of the increasing social issue of loneliness, the charity encourages contributions that inspire as well as open up opportunites for dialogue.

On campus support

California Institute of Technology, or CalTech to friends, is 2nd in the world rankings of academic offerings. Perhaps part of the reason is due to the dedicated online and on campus support offered by the wellness team to ensure that students of the colleges at the university feel secure and safe to learn and excel. Nobel Prize winners, Turing award holders and more have passed through their doors and many students now feel the pressure to perform in this world-class school. However counsellors, drop in services and peer mentors mean that if you attend this establishment you will be well looked after. No wonder their results are so impressive, with that level of dedication to their students.

Any university has a responsibility to their students but as young people’s voices grow louder and their needs are more clearly expressed, establishments are scrabbling to compete for student satisfaction. This can only be a good thing for those poeple this World Mental Health Day who need a little extra support.

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed or in need of help, research what your university offers, or access charity support available 24/7 by phone or online.

Samaritans UK – https://www.samaritans.org/

Samaritans USA – http://www.samaritansusa.org/

Celebrating…World Teachers’ Day

Within the same week, World Teachers’ Day and World Mental Health Day are being celebrated. As an educator myself, there didn’t seem a better occasion may arise to reflect on the meaning of the job I chose almost five years ago and what it means to be a teacher. Click here for the dedicated World Mental Health Day article.

More than just a teacher

As a teacher, there is so much more to the job than simply sharing information with students. In a society that is privileged to benefit from access to health services, widespread access to the internet and an active media the job of a teacher is now much broader. Parent-teacher-nurse-counsellor-role model-parole officer-careers advisor would be a more accurate name for the job. This has two main consequences. 1) The job is fantastically rewarding. 2) Teachers seem like constantly exhausted pigeons during term time. So why do it? So many reasons, some of which I’ve decided to outline in an acrostic below in keeping with my English literary background.

T-E-A-C-H-E-R

T is for Teenagers. There is much comment in the news about the time students are willing to commit to learning vs indulging in pleasurable pursuits. But without a shadow of a doubt, teenagers are the funniest and most refreshing part of any day spent in a school. Young people have a phenomenal ability to comprehend and conceptualise learning in unexpected ways. For example, when discussing the merits of a given political system, a student once spent an entire lesson devising their own system that would use Artificial Intelligence to govern as that could make it ‘fair’ as only positive outcomes would be input therefore eliminating human errors of judgement. They had a fully justified parliamentary plan drawn up and made a convincing argument, all in less than an hour.

E is for Evolution. The aforementioned student’s ideas about politics are indicative of another element of modern teaching – evolution. A key role of schooling is to prepare students for the ‘real world’. What will our planet look like in 15-20 years? None of us know. As a result, schools and teachers are constantly adapting and changing their skillsets, provision and approaches to move with the times and ensure our learners are best prepared for their futures. Sometimes it can feel like the blind leading the blind but more often than not it inspires great interest in supporting those who will one day rule the world.

A is for Adaptation. Children and young people in our society are constantly adapting. They are expected to meet so many expectations – from schools’ and colleges’ to their parents’ and peers’. This requires the flexibility that could only be demanded of young people as their minds are supple enough to adapt. I’ve personally taught children with extremely difficult home lives whose priorities are different than their peers, but for the 6 hours a day spent in a classroom they can behave like children. Similarly, I’ve had the privilege of supporting students who have chosen a career path that requires dedication and commitment from an early age – aspiring to be doctors or sportspeople – and they constantly improve and adapt towards their goals.

C is for Comedy gold. They say from ‘the mouths of babes comes praise’…which I’m yet to see! What does emerge from the mouths of students though are a range of earnestly intended and hilarious comments such as:

  • “Why do my f’s look like octopusses?” (And a quick reply from a peer: “No. You mean ‘octopi’.”)
  • “I wasn’t supposed to put these chemicals together? I thought you said MAKE ammonia!”
  • “No, really, the dog ate my homework.”

Additionally, students prompt a whole range of silly sentences that as a grown woman you’d not expect to say. Many of these are too embarrassing to repeat, but suffice to say that working with children keeps you young, as the laughter-lines on most lifelong teachers’ faces prove.

H is for Hormones. Young people have a lot to deal with. Conflict. Fear. Frustration. When these emotions are created within their own developing bodies though it can be overwhelming. Children rely on their teachers to understand and to help them to understand their growing minds and bodies. This is where some also begin to struggle with their mental health. Increasingly, schools are educating their staff and students on the benefits of exercise, openness and access to services as mental well-being is becoming a priority for all.

My-delicious-birthday-cake

E is for Eating. All. The. Time. And not just the children either. Staff rooms are a hotbed of hidden snack drawers and birthday cakes. The best days of the year are charity events. Row upon row of homebaked snacks (with a quick check as to which student or staff member made it, just in case) are torture and delight in equal measure. We earn it though; the average child asks between 250 to 300 questions per day, so that’s a lot of energy burned. Students however, take the calorie count to the next level and with youthful metabolisms to protect them don’t always suffer the consequences. Hmph.

R is for Revolution. The world is theirs for the taking. So a little anarchy and a gentle shove towards activism is sometimes required. It may be unethical to do this as a teacher, but thankfully young people like Greta Thunberg lead the way for us instead. Seeing the youth of the world strike for climate change, or demand better treatment/legislation around education in their countries, brings hope and joy to the heart of an educator. They learned something, even if they missed a day of school. When push comes to shove, life is about taking opportunities and I believe a little revolution is good for the soul. After all, many people I’ve told I’m a teacher think my students revolting, so why not prove them right?

I have been a teacher for five years in the UK, working in a range of schools. Each day children make me laugh, think, question myself and force me to bring my best self to the fore. I can’t think of a better job, or a more engaging way to spend my working life.