Many international students have the perception that higher education in the UK is expensive, and this isn’t far from the truth. The rising cost of tuition fees, combined with pricey visa applications and the recent introduction of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), means that it is becoming more difficult for students to source the required funds.
For the lucky ones whose parents can afford to send them overseas, it’s rare that there is much left in the budget for anything else. Domestic students are entitled to a student loan, but most international students have difficulty accessing any type of financial aid from their home countries, so they must find other ways to earn money while they study.
A way in which this can be done is through the student ambassador programme. Offered by most UK universities, this gives students the chance to earn money while they study, at hours which are convenient for them. The student ambassador scheme is popular with both domestic and international students, especially for the skills they develop, which can be used to help them find employment after graduating.
According to the conditions of the Tier 4 study visa, international students are able to work part time for up to 20 hours a week during term time, and 40 hours a week during the holidays. The student ambassador programme gives them the opportunity to not only earn money while they study, but to also gain working experience in a culturally diverse environment, which is really appealing to future employers.
Grace Lekwuwa, an undergraduate in International Relations and Peace Studies at Leeds Beckett University, has been involved with the student ambassador programme for several years now.
Speaking to Study International about her experience as a student ambassador, Grace said: “Being a student ambassador has been a great way for me to know more about the university and it gives me a platform to talk about my experience as a student and my course.”
Grace, who joined the university’s International Foundation Studies programme before progressing to her Bachelor’s degree, has the benefit of being able to share her experiences under two different programmes with new prospective students – something which she particularly enjoys.
“My role as a student ambassador has helped me to be more outspoken and confident. It is also a valuable addition to my CV and a good way to get money whilst studying,” she said.
Nicole Fong, who studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA), enrolled on to the Bachelor’s of Science in Economics, and enjoyed her time there so much that she decided to stay on and do a Master’s in the same course. She too has been a student ambassador for a number of years and enjoys the experiences she gets as a result.
“As a student ambassador, I get to work directly with the International Office and prospective students from all over the world. This is very fulfilling work as I get to help prospective students find the right university for them and speak about my amazing experiences as a student at UEA,” she shared.
Nicole believes that she has gained some extra skills from the programme, which she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop through her degree course. “It has helped me improve my communication skills through my work managing the social media as well as conducting campus tours for visitors to the campus,” she added.
Becoming a student ambassador programme can be a challenging, yet worthwhile experience – you’ll not only meet with students from around the world, but you’ll help guide them to make the most of their university experience as well. Besides that, it can help bring in some extra cash and allow you to maintain a social life, which is desperately needed during these few stressful years. So if you want to know more about your university’s student ambassador programme, be sure to reach out to the International Student Office.
Image via City University London