Many students now studying in the UK come from far afield and for many, it may be their first experience of British life. Choosing a great school is the first step but understanding the level of support required to ensure the student is happy in their new environment is a key part of the planning process before the start of the academic year. Whilst most schools require their international students to have a designated guardian before they can start, it is important to look at the best solution for both the student and the family.
Leaving home, family and friends can be a daunting experience so having a kind and helpful guardian can make all the difference to a student’s school life. There are many ways to support international students from choosing a designated guardian who will take responsibility for the student’s wellbeing during term and having them stay at exeats and half term holidays plus acting in any emergencies, attending parents’ evenings and checking the progress of the student, to providing a ‘homestay’ whereby the student (aged 16+) can enjoy the same lifestyle as other day school students studying in the UK. The draw of living with a British family along with the added value of learning about cultural differences is hugely valuable. From the schools’ perspective, an international student homestay intake can do much to enrich the school community. ‘Holiday homestays’ for boarders can also help students immerse themselves in the British lifestyle.
It is important to have the support from a recognised agency who will have thoroughly vetted their guardian and host families. They should also provide 24-hour support for the student and their family. Multi-lingual support is another key element when choosing the right agency as many families may struggle with the language and understanding the British system.
Gabbitas has established an excellent reputation for the high quality of its services and caring team. We have over 100 Guardian and Host Families, located throughout the UK, who take great pleasure in opening their homes and welcoming international students.
By Monika Fryzicka – Guardianship Consultant at Gabbitas