Kukureka and Quigley

Title: An on-line tool to enhance academic transition for international students

Project Leads: Stephen Kukureka (School of Metallurgy and Materials) and Steven Quigley (School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering).


The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences typically has approximately 650 international students (300 at undergraduate and 350 at postgraduate).  Some of these international students come directly to Birmingham from their home country, whereas some have already studied in the UK, or through the Birmingham Foundation Academy. There is also a substantial influx of direct-entry undergraduates who join either the second or third year, typically of three-year programmes.  Their needs are more acute as they join established cohorts and have an accelerated acclimatisation programme since they do not necessarily take part in traditional Freshers’ activities.  Postgraduates, especially PGR, often arrive at time of the year outside the normal start of term and may be have no immediate friends or compatriots in this country, leading to possible isolation and anxiety.

This project will produce an online resource for new international students that will provide support and guidance through the initial adjustment phase.  The background and research review from the preliminary report suggests both that no ‘off-the-shelf’ equivalent is available and that, furthermore, the tool should be tailored to the University of Birmingham and in particular to the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

This project follows the report ‘Developing an online transition tool to enhance the academic transition process for international students’ by Sally-Anne Betteridge, University of Birmingham, 2012.  This report includes a research review from the published literature. It is also based on substantial work involving consultation both within the University, externally within the UK and internationally.  Previous experience in online tools is explored, together with published studies and considerable discussion with staff and students involved in international transition activities.  All of this work has produced a sound basis for moving forward to the implementation stage.