Student Support

Here you will find a quick reference guide to stuyding at a foreign institution.

Now that you have completed all the formalities of enrolling on a course with an institution outside your home country, you may find that everything is very different from your expectations, and you have no idea what happens next. It may be that this is your first experience of distance study, or that the host institution you have chosen uses a different model of teaching and learning. In either case, you can feel bewildered and isolated. 

These pages are intended to help you over this feeling of isolation, by giving you some tips for action, and reassurance that you are not the only one who feels this way.

The most important thing to remember is to use the home pages of the institution with which you are studying to familiarise yourself with the teaching and learning methods, and to communicate with someone in the institution when you have questions or problems. The first point of contact should always be the Virtual Exchange coordinator, whose contact details are given in the details of the module you have chosen in the Search Courses section of this web portal. You may also have been sent the details of a tutor or study advisor for the module you are studying. These contacts can help you with most aspects of study – do use them, without delay.

Are you interested about how you can find information for your study? And how libraries can support virtual mobility? Click here for the Librarie links.

For further tips on areas which experience has shown to be problematic :

  • Communications
    Distance teaching institutions all have their distinctive way of communicating with students, via different media. You should receive information about who to contact for your particular module, but, if you do not, you should contact the Virtual Exchange coordinator for the host institution. Email is the most convenient way of making this contact. It is important that you do not just leave any problems you may have, or wait for contact from the institution for too long. You need to keep up with the study schedule, and should make contact yourself if you do not receive information. Most distance taught modules also have student forums for each module, and these should be helpful to you. Do not feel inhibited about contributing, since these forums are an essential part of the international experience, and other students will be interested to learn from your different point of view. Remember that to make the most of learning from staff and other students on your module, you need to be active in communicating.
  • Course regulations
    Whilst studying a module with another institution, you will be subject to the regulations of that institution for that module. You need to know where you can find the regulations (usually on the host website) and which of them applies to you. For the most part, these will be familiar and seem logical to you, but there may be aspects which are different from those of your home institution, and it is important that you take account of these. If you cannot find the regulations for your module, or you cannot understand them, ask someone in the host institution to explain. 
  • Study Skills
    Most distance teaching institutions have material for students about how to learn at a distance. These are usually available on the website, but may be hard to find if you are unfamiliar with the institution. Do ask your tutor, study advisor or the Virtual Exchange coordinator if you cannot find them.Whilst you may be an experienced learner, such sites give an insight into the teaching and learning model of the host institution, and can be very useful to students at all stages of their learning. They can save you time and help you to be more successful. 
  • Language issues
    As a Virtual Exchange student, you are probably studying a module in a language which is not your first language. This is part of the international experience, and you will, no doubt, be anxious about your ability to express academic concepts in a foreign language. The module you have chosen is not primarily a language module, and so you should not expect that your tutor or assessor will concentrate exclusively on your language ability in assessing and correcting your work. They are there to teach the subject of the module, and not the language. You will need to show that you have grasped the academic concepts of the module, and can communicate them, in order to succeed. If you feel that you are really struggling with the language, do ask for advice from your tutor or assessor: it may be that this is not apparent in your work, or there may be books or courses that can be recommended to help with this. You do need an appropriate language standard, but not perfection.
  • Assessment
    For many students, this is the least attractive component of any module, but it is an essential part of your learning. Each institution (and often each module) will have its own distinctive model for assessment. You must familiarise yourself with the way in which the module is assessed right at the beginning. The kinds of things you need to check are:
    - Is there any continuous assessment?I
    - Is there an examination?
    - What are the dates that any written work should be submitted?
    - What happens if you miss a deadline?
    - Are contributions to student forums part of the assessment?
    - Who can help if you have a problem in understanding what is expected in an assessment?
    - How is any written work submitted?
    - How are marks allocated in each assessment?
    If you have any difficulty in accessing information about assessment, contact the Virtual Exchange coordinator without delay.