In Conversation With UK Universities: What Are Universities' COVID-19 Contingency Plans?

Our second showcase saw universities from all over the UK discuss their COVID-19 contingency plans for September 2020. 

In our second university showcase, we welcomed another six universities. Understandably, with September drawing closer, our conversations with these six universities turned to the subject of COVID-19 contingency plans. 

As a result, this is the first of three showcases where we delve deeper into how universities are currently managing the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, and what this will mean for their admissions requirements and students’ life on campus when the next academic year begins. 

The universities in the second of our showcases included institutions from the North West of England and Yorkshire. After our earlier interview with Exeter, we also returned to the South West of England to learn more about The University of Bristol. 

The most common themes in our second showcase included: 

  • Universities discussing their COVID-19 contingency plans, and giving a general overview of social distancing measures on campus in September 2020. 
  • Accommodation & campus living - how to choose the right accommodation and the sort of options available to international students.
  • International student diversity on campus, and the types of student societies on offer.
  • Employability and career prospects, with a number of universities in this session showcasing their work experience and showcase schemes.

The University of Liverpool

At a glance 

The first of two universities in this showcase that were based in the North West of England, our virtual tour of Liverpool was led by Dan Stephenson, who is the Associate Director of International Recruitment at the university. 

Dan first threw a spotlight on the city of Liverpool itself, explaining how Liverpool is currently one of the fastest growing economies in the UK, and has more museums and galleries than any other city outside of London. 

The university itself is based in the heart of Liverpool, and was founded in 1881. The university is also one of the founder members of the Russell Group. There is a vibrant community of 8,000 international students at Liverpool.

What are the university's COVID-19 contingency measures?

Liverpool still plans to welcome students to campus in September. The university is currently working on a learning model for 2020/21 that combines face to face teaching in smaller groups with virtual teaching sessions. 

The university is also working on ways to ensure students’ safety with socially distanced study spaces and teaching schedules that are designed to reduce the number of students moving around the campus at any one time. 

Are there any integrated Masters' opportunities at Liverpool?  

Yeah that’s a good question and for most of the science and engineering programs that’s a possibility! So we do undergraduate Masters’ in Engineering, we do them in Mathematics, we do them in Physics [...] but it’s quite a standard thing we would do, particularly in the STEM disciplines. 

So that makes it a four year program. The first two years would be similar to your standard undergraduate degree and then it would begin to deviate in the third year because of course it fulfils more of the professional accreditation that is required.

Is there an opportunity to have one-on-one time with lecturers themselves? 

There is, yes, absolutely. So we often do that in the dissertation phase. There’ll be lots of one on one time then when the student is counselled and guided by the academic but of course there are opportunities throughout the year anyway to have regular sessions with your tutor, to have smaller sessions with groups of other students.

But yeah, absolutely, students will have an appointment or a sit down catch up with their academic on quite a regular basis.

Could you give us a bit more information about the placement years and are they paid?

That’s a good question. The way it works with the placement years is we try to make all the connections for the student and we help to set up the interviews.

Many of the placement years are paid, although it’s a lower salary than what you’d receive when you graduate but we do try to make sure that the students’ efforts are recognised during that placement year, and that can be very attractive when you’re trying to pay off a loan to fund the program, or to give you some extra funds to cover living costs. 

The one thing to be clear about is that those placements are not guaranteed [...] but we do everything in our power to make sure that students are equipped for those interviews. We do things like CV coaching, interview coaching, we help students go through graduate test centres, give them mock papers, that sort of thing. 

Do you have any advice on being a competitive student for Nursing?

Sure! So certainly for the Health Science disciplines, like Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy [...] it’s really about showing that passion and enthusiasm for the subject. 

Health Science academics will like to interview prospective students [...] and what we’ve found is that when students have applied for a Health Science/Clinical area it might be because they’ve been pushed there by their parents or a third party, and the passion, interest and knowledge might not come out in that interview. 

 

So I would always recommend for any discipline of that type, a lot of wider reading, understanding some of the pressures on the National Health Service in the UK - for example an ageing population, issues with obesity and obviously most recently COVID-19 - and getting a sense of what’s really going on and the wider strategy of the NHS here in the UK. 

I think having that sort of knowledge, demonstrating that in the Personal Statement and then re-iterating that during the interview process is the best advice I would have. And of course choosing the right subjects at school is helpful and gives you a head start if you have that scientific knowledge, for example in Biology. 

“There’ll be lots of one on one time then when the student is counselled and guided by the academic but of course there are opportunities throughout the year anyway to have regular sessions with your tutor, to have smaller sessions with groups of other students”

Dan Stephenson: Associate Director, University of Liverpool

Could you give us a bit more information on what welfare is available for students on campus?

Of course! So just to give you a sense of what happens when students first arrive, we collect all our international students from the airport and then we hand them over to our Student Experience team. 

Now within the Student Experience team there’s a specific section just for international students so they’ll provide a bespoke welcome week, where they’ll be special sessions laid on just for international students. 

We’ll take students around the city centre, get them to set up a local bank account, get them registered with a doctor. As students become more immersed in university life, the Student Experience team is then on hand to help with any other issues that students might face. Typically it can be things like visa complications or maybe a financial challenge and they’re well-versed with these kinds of issues. 

Bear in mind of course that a third of our students are international, typically around 8,000 at least. So the university, and the city for that matter, have a good track record for dealing with international students and some of the challenges and issues that they occasionally face. 

“We’ll take students around the city centre, get them to set up a local bank account, get them registered with a doctor. As students become more immersed in university life, the Student Experience team is then on hand to help with any other issues that students might face”

Dan Stephenson: Associate Director, University of Liverpool

Could you give us the criteria or required GPA for courses at Liverpool?

For the US diploma, we’d say that 3 out of 4 is the standard we’d be looking for. We’ll also have AP requirements and SAT requirements, depending on the background of the student.  It’s always 3 out of 4 for the high school diploma. Typical offer for the IB is 33, again depending on the subject. A-levels would be about ABB.

Nottingham Trent University

At a glance 

Dave Berry, International Officer at Nottingham Trent University, shared his experiences both as a member of staff and a former student himself! 

Dave’s presentation focussed on both on Nottingham’s rich cultural offerings as a city, as well as the university itself. 

Nottingham Trent was founded in 1843, with an international student body of 3,000 (around 10% of the student population). Nottingham Trent has three campuses. 

The City campus is home to the university’s Business, Law and Architecture schools; the Brackenhurst campus is built around a farm and plays host to the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences; finally the Clifton campus is home to the School of Arts and Humanities and the Nottingham Institute of Education. 

What are the university's COVID-19 contingency plans? 

Nottingham Trent continues to update its COVID-19 contingency plans, with the university making plans for international students to begin their studies online if needs be. 

In addition, any student who decides to defer until 2021 will not be required to apply again. 

As well as giving us an overview of the university, Dave answered the following questions from students who attended the showcase.

“All updates are being put on our NTU coronavirus updates page but we fully appreciate that a number of exams have been cancelled and students are going to have predicted grades”

Dave Berry: International Officer, Nottingham Trent University

Year 12 mock exams have been cancelled. Does the university take this into consideration?

Yeah absolutely. What we’re trying to do is to be as clear as possible about what we’re going to do with grades. All updates are being put on our NTU coronavirus updates page but we fully appreciate that a number of exams have been cancelled and students are going to have predicted grades. Where possible, we will try to show flexibility once those are announced.

Could you tell us the range of IB scores that are accepted at Nottingham Trent University?

So with the IB we’re slightly different to other institutions. We want you to have the overall diploma where possible but we typically look at your three HL (Higher Level) scores. We’d typically be looking at between 14 and 16 points for your three Higher Level scores. So scores of perhaps 555 or 556 for your Higher Levels - that would be if you held the full diploma including CAS, Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay. 

If you just had the certificates, we’d use the UCAS Tariff system to check your total scores.

Could you tell us about the work experience for students while they’re studying & getting a job with related partner organisations? 

In terms of work experience opportunities, we’re one of the most prolific universities in terms of the number of students we have on work placements. Work experience is part of many of our courses. We actually have many courses that have an option to do a placement year. 

So rather than a three year bachelor’s degree, you would do a four year bachelor’s degree and that would include a one year work placement which we’d expect to be in a paid position. We also incorporate mandatory work experience into the vast majority of our three year programs as well. 

In terms of the support in progressing with partners, whether that’s employers or other universities, we have one of the UK’s largest employability teams and they can provide you with advice and guidance on how to find jobs, how to develop your resume, how to gain internships, how to develop your interview technique. So there’s lots of support available. 

Could you tell us a bit about the range of societies for different cultures and nationalities on campus?

I say this all the time, but there are more societies and clubs than I could possibly name! What I recommend is that you visit our Student Union website and you’ll see a list of every single society and club we have. 

“In terms of work experience opportunities, we’re one of the most prolific universities in terms of the number of students we have on work placements”

Dave Berry: International Officer, Nottingham Trent University

What are the English language requirements and do you accept Duolingo?

We don’t accept Duolingo unfortunately. In terms of language requirements, it generally varies via country. We accept IELTS, we accept Pearson English tests. Most of our courses require IELTS 6.5 overall, with 5 points in each component as a minimum. 

But some of our undergraduate courses for creative/portfolio based programmes or , they only require 6.0. Journalism requires 7.0 and there’s various exceptions.

Can you tell us a bit more about studying abroad and are there any subjects where you won’t be able to study abroad? 

There are probably a small number of courses (e.g, intensive Masters’ courses) where you wouldn’t be going abroad. But for many of our undergraduate courses there are lots of opportunities for studying abroad. 

We have an NTU Global team based in the middle of the city campus. They are here to help you and advise you on where you can go and study. 

You can look at the opportunities on our website but there are dozens for you to choose from!

Hear from other UK Universities

Check out some of our other showcases to hear from other university reps around the UK, with more insights on application requirements, campus life & international student support

The University of York

At a glance 

Nick Skeavington from the University of York gave a really detailed presentation explaining what’s on offer for international students. 

York is one of the newer, campus universities in the UK, established in 1963. It’s based on the edge of York city centre. Some of the subjects that York ranks highly for include Accounting and Finance, Biology, Business and Management, English Literature and Psychology. 

For students looking to improve their employability, York is notable for its wealth of year in industry and work placement opportunities. 94% of York’s graduates are employed within six months of leaving university. 

What are the university’s COVID-19 contingency plans?

Nick explained how York currently plans to begin the 2020/21 academic year with the usual term dates. 

The delivery of programmes will depend on the UK government’s social distancing guidelines, but it’s likely that students at the university will attend large lectures remotely from the comfort of their accommodation. Smaller classes, seminars and lab work will take place in person if possible. 

For international students unable to come to the UK, they will be able to begin their programmes online/remotely and transition to studying in the UK at a later date if needs be. 

Nick also explained that the university has reduced its IELTS language requirements and is accepting both the TOEFL IBT test and Duolingo as alternative tests that students can take from home. 

Nick received a lot of questions from students. Read on to learn more about the University of York! 

“If you accept York as your firm or your insurance choice then we will come back to you and give you a deadline of when you need to make your accommodation application so normally that’s in June or July.”

Nick Skeavington: International Recruitment Manager, University of York

Due to the COVID-19 situation, a lot of students are missing out on work experience opportunities - what advice would you give them?

For a range of programmes at York, it’s helpful to see good work experience and we think it’s useful to have a sense of what those kinds of careers go on to in the future. 

Where students haven’t been access that this year, we know that they may feel disadvantaged and we will certainly read applications knowing they haven’t been able to access some of those opportunities. 

The things I would recommend to try and make up that gap is to read and watch as much as you can about that particular profession, to understand what it is you’re looking to do in the future. 

It isn’t a requirement that you have formal work experience. To apply to Economics, or Business or Biology at York you don’t have to have spent time in a bank, or in a law firm or in a laboratory. All those things are great, but you can demonstrate those skills and experiences in a lot of other ways. 

How common are unconditional offers at York?

Good question! So if a student has completed all their application or has completed their high school programme before they apply to us, if they’ve taken a gap year, then it would be likely that we would issue an unconditional offer, as there wouldn’t be any academic questions we would have. 

We would ask for final certificates, proof of English language ability,  we finalise and check that everything in your UCAS application is correct.

For students who are still in high school, we don’t typically make unconditional offers to them, so we don’t use and haven’t used unconditional offers. That hasn’t been something York has used this year, in the past we have done for a number of programmes where a number of other universities were doing the same. 

But we don’t think it helps students and schools and we would say think carefully about accepting another university’s unconditional offer where it does require you to make somewhere your firm choice. 

Those grades stay with students through their whole life, on CVs and resumes, so we would encourage students to work as hard as they can and get the best grades they can. 

For the Accounting and Finance course, what is the IB Maths requirement?

We’d ask for 35. We don’t preference having Maths at Higher Level, so Standard Level would be fine and any Mathematics variant under the new IB system would be fine. 

“We have an internship bureau through the Careers Service and that’s generally for local, summer based internships. Those are open to international students – on a Tier 4 visa you can work full time in the vacation periods.”

Nick Skeavington: International Recruitment Manager, University of York

Could you tell us a bit more about the diversity on campus at the University of York?

We’re a very diverse UK university. We have students from a wide range of backgrounds, in terms of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. York as a city is less diverse so we bring a lot of diversity to the city and that’s common with a lot of smaller British cities. In terms of our international population, we have students from over 150 countries around the world. 

Our biggest populations would be from China, Hong Kong and India, the USA and Canada. Notable groups from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Singapore and Malaysia, the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon. Within Europe, big populations from Italy, Greece, France along with over 25 other European countries represented as well! 

Could you give us more information about accommodation for first year students and guarantees when they apply?

If you accept York as your firm or your insurance choice then we will come back to you and give you a deadline of when you need to make your accommodation application so normally that’s in June or July. You then list a series of preferences on the accommodation application. 

It might be that you want to live in a particular type of room, so you might want an en-suite, or you might want a catered option. Or it may be that you want to live in a particular part of campus so you would put that at the top of your form. 

It’s normally a first come, first serve system by date after that deadline has passed, so we would encourage you to meet the deadline but as long as you do, you’re considered equally along with other students. That’s guaranteed for international fee paying students for all three years living with us. 

Learn more about studying in the UK

Read our Ultimate Guide to Studying in the UK and learn more about the different types of university institution, entry requirements, student finance and much more!

What workplace opportunities and internships are available for international students? 

We have an internship bureau through the Careers Service and that’s generally for local, summer based internships. Those are open to international students - on a Tier 4 visa you can work full time in the vacation periods. Those roles are funded partly by the university and partly by the employer. 

There’s also support in helping you to get bigger, more competitive internships, with organisations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Deloitte, the major banks and software companies, both in the UK and abroad. There are lots of chances to get to know those companies at careers fairs. Generally these internships would fall between year 2 and year 3 of a Bachelor’s degree or they would be your formal work placement between years 2 and 3. 

Could you give us a bit more information about the study abroad options available and what is the process for applying to them?

So there are a few programmes at York where you can apply at UCAS stage and you can apply saying you want to spend all or part of your year abroad. Generally that’s part of programmes that include a language, so for example French and Spanish with Linguistics, or History and French. 

That would normally be a four year programme with your third year spent overseas. It might be spent at a university, it might be spent working. So that’s one option. 

The other option is that the university has a wide range of global partners: the University of Pennsylvania is one, the University of British Columbia in Canada, the University of Toronto, Columbia University, the University of Washington; options in Australia, South Africa, throughout Europe, HKU and the National University of Singapore. 

Typically you would apply for these once you get to York and you essentially add on a year to your programme with us. It might be competitive within your wider subject area or within the course curriculum. 

University of Bristol

At a glance 

Charles Pybus kicked off the presentation for the University of Bristol by sharing just some of the many reasons an international student might want to consider the city. 

Among other things, Bristol has been named the best place to live in the UK, the best UK city for students, and the kindest city! 

The university has a large and diverse student union, with over 400 societies. It also offers students 30 accommodation buildings, with an accommodation guarantee for all first year international students. 

Bristol also has a range of student support services, including the Global Lounge, a cultural hub that encourages integration for all students through a range of social events and cultural celebrations. 

What are the university’s COVID-19 contingency plans?

The University of Bristol is expecting to open in the autumn, and they are considering a number of measures to help students meet their entry requirements. 

For example Bristol is accepting a very wide range of English language exams, including Duolingo, IELTS Indicator and TOEFL at Home. In addition, the university will deliver its pre-sessional courses online. 

They will also be implementing a range of social distancing measures while on campus, across teaching/study spaces and student accommodation. 

Here are some of the other questions that Charles received during his presentation.

How will MMI interviews for Medicine be conducted in light of COVID-19?

Most of our MMI interviews will take place in 2021. So our current expectation is that we’ll be able to deliver it as usual and in fact this year we were able to complete our MMIs for this year’s entry. 

We are looking at overseas interviews, depending on travel restrictions in the future, but that’s still in the balance at the moment.

Could you please elaborate on admissions officers not reading UCAS Personal Statements?

We were challenged by the government to widen access to make sure we had as many students from different backgrounds as we could. We found that by putting a lot of weight on the Personal Statement, that meant we admitted a narrower group of students. 

So our decision was that we, broadly, would reduce the importance of the Personal Statement. So when we look at the Personal Statement, we will use it as tie breaker.

So say for example, we’re looking at two students for Medicine and they have the same A-level grades, the same UCAT score, then we’d look at the Personal Statement. But it’s really at that stage as a tie-breaker, perhaps at confirmation when we want additional information in order to make a decision. 

But it isn’t high up the list of importance for us and really predicted grades are the best indicator of whether you’re going to get an offer from Bristol. 

Are the scholarships at Bristol University merit-based or need based?

In a sense they are merit based, but it’s not academic merit. We assess your academic abilities through the normal admission process.

With the scholarship we’re really looking for students who have made a contribution, that might just be through their school, the national or international community. 

We’re also looking for students with strong leadership skills and students who have a clear plan for how the degree they study at Bristol is going to help them make a difference in the future. 

“With the scholarship we’re really looking for students who have made a contribution, that might just be through their school, the national or international community”

Charles Pybus: Head of International Student Recruitment, University of Bristol

How is accommodation assigned at Bristol University?

So when students apply for accommodation they will get three choices. They will also be able to give their preferences. We will try to allocate you to one of your three preferences. Where that’s not possible, for example if you’ve chosen the three most competitive halls, we would then allocate you to a hall that matches your needs. 

So where you’ve said to us you want single sex accommodation, we’ll get you single sex accommodation. If you’ve asked for catered accommodation, we’ll get you catered accommodation. 

For degrees that are much more contact-based, e.g. Medicine and Veterinary Science, will the work experience hours be reduced?

So we don’t have a minimum work experience requirement. It is something that I think is helpful for interview, as it gives them insight into the career, but in terms of getting you shortlisted for an interview, our process is very clear. So we look first at your A-level/IB grades and if you meet the minimum threshold, you would go to the next stage. 

All the students in that group, we would then look at their UCAT scores. Then we’ll assign a cut off - for example 200 people - then we would only interview those 200 people. 

Regarding entry requirements, are Pre-Us taken into account?

So we do accept Pre-Us and we do take them into account. As they are quite demanding courses, there tends to be a bit more legroom for students. So we don’t benchmark the very highest grades in the Pre-U to an A* - it’s the highest three grades. But yes we accept them on a like for like basis with A-levels. 

Could you give us a bit more information on student welfare and where can parents get information on this? 

So in terms of student welfare, we do have a huge amount of information on our website. You can also register on our website to have that kind of information sent to your parents, because we do know this information is very relevant to parents. 

The lynchpin of the way we support students is our Residential Life service, so by having people who are in the hall of residence. 

To give you an example of how comprehensive that service is, during the current crisis obviously a lot of students opted to go home once the university had moved to online teaching. 

We actually had one of our Residential Life advisers have someone’s mum phone them up and say “I’m booking flights now, I need my son to confirm he’s available and he won’t answer his phone.” So we knocked on his door and asked the student if they could pick up the phone to their mum, as they were trying to book their flight.” 

So it’s that level of support and we’re there for anything, and it’s 24 hour support in your hall of residence. 

SOAS, University of London

At a glance 

SOAS has over 6,300 students on campus. 54% of students at SOAS are international. 

Degree programmes at SOAS tend to focus on Humanities and Social Science disciplines, including Anthropology, Law, Development Studies and Politics & International Studies. 

As well as its undergraduate programmes, SOAS also offers a range of Foundation courses, as well as a range of MOOCs and online taster courses, often lasting 4-6 weeks. 

What are the universities’ COVID-19 contingency plans? 

SOAS plans to deliver its courses online during Term 1, with some on-campus appointments, and academic support for students where possible. 

Online teaching at SOAS will include online lectures and seminars with interactive Q&A sessions, reading materials, discussion forums, podcasts and video seminars. 

SOAS intends to return to on-campus teaching in January 2021, to coincide with the beginning of Term 2. 

Below are some of the additional questions that SOAS’s rep Tom Knowles fielded from our student audience. 

Does IGCSE Language count towards the university’s English Language requirements? 

If you want the full list for the English qualifications, you can find them on the website, under English Language Requirements

Do you have any study abroad programmes, and do you have any degrees that do not offer them? 

We do offer study abroad. If you’re looking to study for a term or one year at SOAS, we have a flexible scheme where you can pick four modules from across the different departments. You don’t have to specialise - you can pick something from Japanese, from Economics, from Philosophy, whatever you want! 

The deadline for studying abroad is 31st July, so you can either send that through your home institution or studyabroad@soas.ac.uk 

“In terms of internships, the opportunities will vary year on year. The Careers Department is also there to help you if you’re looking for specialised opportunities, and can point you in the right direction.”

Tom Knowles: Study Abroad & Liaison Officer, SOAS

Could you tell us a bit more about the work experience opportunities available for students while they are studying? 

Probably the easiest opportunity is Student Ambassador work. It’s very flexible. In terms of internships, the opportunities will vary year on year. The Careers Department is also there to help you if you’re looking for specialised opportunities, and can point you in the right direction. 

In order to study a language as a joint honours degree, what level of proficiency is required for that language? 

They will usually ask for GCSE as a minimum level of proficiency, or some kind of certification that you’ve done some level of assessment in that language. 

Some modules are straight language, whereas others such as cultural studies, might only require elements of that language. 

I’d recommend looking on the individual course pages, as they will have all the information you need. 

Lancaster University

At a glance

For Lancaster’s presentation, we were fortunate to have two representatives from the university taking students’ questions! Tom Malcolm and Kirsten Mingins answered a range of questions about the second North-West university in this showcase. 

Lancaster University dates back to the 12th century and the university comprises eight colleges. This collegiate environment offers students a supportive community. There’s also a vibrant international student community on campus, representing over 100 countries

Lancaster is on the doorstep of other major cities in the North West of England such as Manchester and Liverpool. 

It’s also worth noting that Lancaster University has a commitment to offering lifetime career support for its graduates, meaning its rated 3rd in the UK for graduate employment (according to the Times and Sunday Times University guide). 

What are the university’s COVID-19 contingency plans?

Lancaster currently plans to open for teaching in September, with student Welcome Week commencing on the 28th September. 

The university campus will open with social distancing measures in place, but if government restrictions prevent this from happening, teaching will be delivered online in the first instance. 

Lancaster has also committed to maximising the student experience while ensuring students’ safety on campus.

Could you tell us a bit more about the diversity on campus at Lancaster? 

Tom: We are very conscious that class diversity is very important to students. So making sure that students have exposure to a wider range of nationalities is definitely something we’re aware of. 

We have students coming in and out from our campus through our study abroad programmes. We have a campus in Leipzig, Germany, we have a Uganda campus and an operation in Malaysia as well. 

Are there societies around the university for different cultures and nationalities?

Tom: That’s a great question! You’ll find that there’s a wide range of societies for different nationalities, so for example the Ghanaian student society. 

In addition we have societies aimed at mixing students together and several other societies that might be of interest for international students - for example our Historical Society - where you students get to travel around the UK visiting historical sites. So yeah, quite a lot of provision for international societies. 

Kirsten: There’s a lot of language societies as well, so students might join a society based on their own language. 

Could you tell us a little bit more about the scholarships available for international students - are these merit based or academic based?

Kirsten: The majority of the scholarships are available at the postgraduate level. There are a few scholarships at undergraduate level, for example in the Management School. 

“We are very conscious that class diversity is very important to students. So making sure that students have exposure to a wider range of nationalities is definitely something we’re aware of.”

Tom Malcolm: International Student Recruitment Officer, Lancaster University

Is there a swimming pool on campus and could you give us a bit more information about the sports facilities? 

Kirsten: We do have a swimming pool on campus (it’s about 25 metres I think?). 

Tom: Our sports provision is located in our Sports Centre, including indoor courts for badminton and tennis, gym equipment, a climbing wall and a bouldering cave. In addition to that, we have a lot of green space around that, so there’s a lot of provision for field sports. 

A lot of universities have medical buildings far from the main campus. Is this the case with Lancaster? 

Tom: For medical students we have five hospitals within commutable distance. The nearest is Lancaster Infirmary, which is ten minutes from the campus by bus. All our Medical teaching space is on campus as well. 

Could you give us a bit more information about work opportunities available in Lancaster post-graduation?

Kirsten: It depends very much on the field you’re looking at. The Careers Service will help and support students as much as possible to promote any local job opportunities that may come up. We are a smaller city but it’s not far to a number of bigger cities in the North-West, so it’s only an hour from Manchester and Liverpool, about half an hour to Preston. So there’s a wider area you’d be looking at for jobs post-graduation. 

What welfare provision is there for students on campus at Lancaster?

Tom: Within each college, we have staff who are there to support students who are members of that college and that’s someone you can get to know on first name terms. In the centre of campus, there’s a building called the Base and that covers employability and our student support services. 

It’s really wide-ranging, from academic student support to more general mental health support. Any students experiencing any difficulty, those services are available to them. 

“I watched a gig in a tiny room and then got to hang out with the band afterwards! I couldn’t have had any of those experiences in London! That day highlighted the advantages of a small town versus a big city.”

Tom Malcolm: International Recruitment Officer, Lancaster University

I’ve heard Lancaster is a small city - could you talk a bit more about what it’s like to live in the city itself, and the social scene? 

Tom: I’m really good at talking about this, because I live in London at the moment, so I can see the pros and cons of big town versus small town. 

One of the best ways to describe it is, when I was on Lancaster campus last summer, I finished work on campus and then I walked home down the canal, saw a load of wildlife, went to the pub, ate a meal and then the chef came out and sat with me for twenty minutes to explain how he’d made that meal.

I watched a gig in a tiny room and then got to hang out with the band afterwards! I couldn’t have had any of those experiences in London! That day highlighted the advantages of a small town versus a big city. 

What's the application success rate for international students who want to study Medicine?

Kirsten: For international students, the numbers we are able to accept are incredibly low. At the moment, the Department of Health dictates what percentage of students we can enrol from overseas. At the moment that permits us to allow 4 students per year from overseas. 

So in terms of success rates for international students it is obviously very competitive, but we try not to put people off from applying because those places do need to be filled. And if you do have the right skills and the right experience then we will consider you.

If you take more than three A-levels, is this taken into account?

Kirsten: So we would take the best three if there’s more than 3 A-levels, but it would depend on what subject we were looking at. Yes, we would take into account the fourth subject (or more if there are more than four). 

Could you give us a bit more information about the accommodation and what guarantees there are for international students? 

Tom: Accommodation is guaranteed on campus if Lancaster is your firm choice. There’s a wide range depending on what you want to spend, what provisions there are in the accommodation. But it’s of a really high quality. The majority of students will live on campus in their first year, which I’d really recommend doing. It makes it really easy to settle in. 

From the second year onwards, students will live in the city. We have a student accommodation housing office on campus that can help students find accommodation and ensure that it’s of a proper price and proper quality. 

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