“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ― Jane Goodall
What better way to start the week than with even more inspiration? Today we will inspire you with an educator that really makes a difference for its international students. ETN Focus is delighted to meet you with Bath Spa University, kindly represented by Ms Sabrin Hasbun, International Recruitment Officer.
Read our interview with Bath Spa University below.
ETN Focus: Please introduce yourself to ETN Focus and tell us a bit more about Bath Spa University.
Sabrin Hasbun, Bath Spa University: Hello. I am Sabrin Hasbun, International recruitment Officer at Bath Spa University. I am specifically in charge of developing our networks with Latin America.
Bath Spa University is a growing reality. We are open to challenges, and we look at them creatively. We always encourage our students, staff and partners to be part of the university development. This is why we describe ourselves with three simple words: Creativity, Culture and Enterprise.
ETN Focus: Your history spans over 160 years of tradition and success. How have internationalisation and diversification of your student population developed and evolved throughout all these years?
Bath Spa: Bath Spa International Office, as it is now, is a fairly new department inside the University. We started in 2012 and now we have more than 1200 international students on campus, coming from 83 different countries. This can show our commitment and passion for what we do. It is incredible to see how many successes we have achieved in just a few years. International students are at the core of Bath Spa University strategy, and the international team is keeping growing and looking at new areas.
ETN Focus: What is the importance of nurturing a diverse student body for a university like Bath Spa?
Bath Spa: Diversification is an essential value for us, and it is at the centre of our view and strategy. We are a small University, around 7500 students, and we value ourselves for being a well-working community which put students at the core of everything. For this reason we look at quality over quantity. Quality for us, means enable our applicants to bring an original talent and a different point of view and feel encouraged in doing so.
ETN Focus: How do you identify your target markets for international student recruitment? Which regions are you currently aiming to explore and why?
Bath Spa: We usually follow 2 roads. Firstly we look at countries which have sent us good numbers of students in the past, and we make our best to maintain relationships and contacts with institutions, schools and agents in the area. Second, we look at new countries, and research the area in any possible directions. If the students’ request can match our offer and philosophy, we start to build a network of connections. This is what we are doing at the moment with Chile. In the past we haven’t had many students from this country, but we are really interested to raise our profile. We have already agreements with Universities in Santiago, and we are planning several visits for the next year. We believe in the potential of this relationship and we think that Bath Spa’s view can offer a lot to Chilean students and vice versa.
ETN Focus: Tell us a bit more about the channels and tools you use to promote your school internationally to prospective students and their families. Is it important to have an agents network? If yes, how do you support the agents you work with?
Bath Spa: We always start with a digital campaign to taste the ground. It is well known that students are using social media and web sources as first access to universities. We want to be up to date with their needs, and be there when they will look for us. After that we start planning frequents visits, be on the field, try and meet students at fairs and events.
However the most important thing for us is building a network of agents who share our values and our strategy, and can act for us on the ground. We really estimate our agents’ effort and we always do our best to encourage it. We make this happen through some really good advantages, not just with our commission structure, but with a continuous and consistent support, made of trainings, updated material, visits, and our annual agent conference here at Bath Spa.
ETN Focus: From your experience, are there any do’s and don’ts you could share with fellow institutions that are making their first steps in international recruitment?
Bath Spa: I talk from a student perspective, as I was an International students myself. The most important DO is make the students feel valued. So, listen to them. Talk with the students you have on campus. Collect their stories, learn their culture, see what their successful experiences are and shape your recruitment strategy on them.
Link to the previous one, DON’T: don’t look just at the numbers. Numbers are a good starting point, but then it is more important to look around, try and be out there.
ETN Focus: According to last year’s University Student Survey, you are in the top 5 creative universities in the UK. How do you incorporate your key values of creativity, culture and enterprise into the experience of your international students, both in the classroom and on campus?
Bath Spa: Our international students bring with them a rich background of different cultures which in contact with our academic offer generates creativity and successful entrepreneurial ideas. In the classroom our students are stimulated to explore their own projects, and to value the links their projects have with their own original culture. The campus offers them the perfect environment to make their project come into reality. With our services (from the student support to the career centre) we help them to find their space inside the business world.
ETN Focus: Finally, what is your vision for the future? How do you see Bath Spa University evolving in the years to come, as well as the UK as a destination for international students?
Bath Spa: We all know, that these are challenging years for HE. Like all challenges, also this one can be transformed into an occasion of development. UK universities have the right tradition and experience to offer to international students an outstanding academic preparation.
Finally, Bath Spa University has the right flexibility to use this moment to show all its peculiarity and quality. We are building a University able to welcome students who have great creative ideas, and want an inspiring place for their projects.
All photos courtesy of Bath Spa University.