Sessions C - Thursday 29 June, 10.45am-12 noon
C1 Are you listening carefully?
Category: Staff support
As staff working in a support role with international students, we pride ourselves in our ability to
listen well. We understand the concept of active listening, we are culturally aware and experienced.
But facing the day to day challenges and pressures of our roles, do we manage to sustain attentive,
focussed listening? Is there room for improvement? And if we re-focussed and enhanced our
listening skills, how might it impact on our work with students? And how might it impact on our
work with colleagues? This session will offer practical ideas on how to help you listen more
carefully, more often.
Presenter: Julie Allen, Director of Policy and Services, UKCISA
Julie is Director of Policy and Services at UKCISA. Prior to joining UKCISA she worked at LSE,
Queen Mary, University of London and University of the Arts London. In addition she is a trained
organisation consultant and qualified coach.
C2 Sharing experiences of checking maintenance documents
Category: Immigration compliance
This highly interactive session is aimed at comparing our experiences in assessing maintenance
documents for Tier 4 visa applications. As the onus is increasingly being placed upon institutions to
ensure visa applications are successful, more and more are checking their applicants’ and continuing
students’ documents meet the Tier 4 requirements before issuing a CAS.
During this session, we would like to promote discussion with our colleagues about successes and
refusals on maintenance grounds which may not have been expected, look into how the Immigration
Rules and guidance can be interpreted in different ways with relation to maintenance documents
and consider regional variations.
We will also talk about our experiences in challenging visa refusals on maintenance grounds and aim
to share best practice.
It would be helpful if colleagues attending this session bring some interesting examples of the above.
Presenters: Rachel Hacking, International Student Adviser, University
Of East London; Vicky Li, International Student Adviser, City, University of London; Nicola Morton, International Student Adviser, University of
Rachel has been working as an International Student Adviser in HE for 6 years. She previously
worked in the English language sector advising and teaching international students in the UK and
abroad. She has a lot of experience in checking maintenance documents in different formats and has
successfully challenged visa refusals on maintenance grounds.
Vicky has been working in the field of international student support and has worked in roles
providing specialist immigration advice for international students in HE since 2007. She has an indepth
experience of checking maintenance documents for Tier 4 applications and supporting
students with complex immigration applications. She has been running training sessions for staff
who are involved with assessing maintenance documents before issuing a CAS at University of
Nicola has been held various roles supporting students at the University of Hertfordshire. She
started working in the Student Registry Department in 2009 and she was appointed UH's first Tier 4
Compliance Officer in 2012. Nicola moved to advice work in 2014 where she has been working as an
International Student Adviser ever since. Nicola checks complicated maintenance documents and
also provides training and guidance for Admissions staff to undertake these checks.
C3 Negotiating the CAS minefield
Category: Immigration compliance
The CAS is the starting point of a successful visa application and also an important tool in
demonstrating institutional compliance. Changes to UKVI guidance in recent years have however
introduced uncertainty into many parts of the CAS issuing process, particularly in relation to
continuing students. During this session we will identify the different interpretations that can be
made of areas such academic progression, start dates and English language proficiency when applied
to different scenarios. As well as exploring these more policy based issues, we will also explore
some of the more practical difficulties of the CAS issuing process, and will invite participants to
reflect on and share the approaches taken within their institutions.
Presenters: Jim Price, Student Immigration Services Manager,
University Of Exeter; Suzanne Aburagheb, International Student Support Team
Leader, University Of Exeter
Jim is the Manager of Student Immigration Services at the University of Exeter, overseeing the
work of the international student support, compliance and CAS teams. He has worked with
international students at a number of different higher education institutions for the past 16 years.
Suzanne is an International Student Adviser at the University of Exeter providing student support
services including specialist immigration advice to students and staff. Suzanne has worked on
campus since 2007 in a wide range of roles and is currently responsible for the operational
management of the advice team at Exeter.
C4 Ronny Chieng, international student
Category: General interest
One of this summer’s anticipated new sitcoms in Australia and the US is "Ronny Chieng:
International Student". In the show writer and actor Chieng (best known in the UK as a special
correspondent on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Trevor Noah) revisits his experiences as a
Malaysian law student in Australia. Clever, driven and competitive, Ronny is also blunt and barbed
and so it’s not long before he is at odds with most people on campus. Adding to Ronny’s
rollercoaster experience as an international student is his strong relationship with his Malaysia based
mum, which veers between affection and agitation as she regularly checks up on him via
We will screen clips from "Ronny Chieng: International Student", courtesy of the production company
Sticky Pictures, and some clips from other comedy films and television shows from around the world
that take international students and their experiences as a springboard for humour.
Presenter: Andrew Humphrey, Advice and Training Officer, UKCISA
YouTube playlist (45 mins):
C5 OISC exempt from registration but not from regulation
Unlike external immigration advisers, the education sector has always been exempt from
registration, and any OISC CPD requirements, thanks to a Ministerial Order negotiated by UKCISA.
However, you are not exempt from OISC regulation. If you’re giving immigration advice you must
comply with the OISC Code of Standards. Headache?
This session will look at key elements of the OISC Code and its basis on good practice for immigration
advice. The new edition Code was implemented on 1 April 2016 but changes do not appear to have
impacted on those covered by any Ministerial Order within the education sector.
Presenter: Duncan Lane, Director of Advice and Training, UKCISA
C6 Mobilising family support: implications for the academic resilience of international
Category: Student experience, UKCISA funded project/research
Research with estranged students indicates abuse, clashes of values, forced marriage and family
rejection of LGBTQI+* are the key causes of family alienation. Moreover, even those international
students who have not experienced such extreme forms of family estrangement are, by default,
geographically estranged from their families. However, although international students share both
the same reasons for estrangement as UK students do, and are likely to have the same needs for
family support, little is known about the importance of family to international students, whether
closely connected to their families or not. In this presentation we present findings from our mixedmethods
research to explore how being at a distance from family (emotionally, socially and
geographically) shapes the international student experience. Through dialogue with conference
participants we will explore ways in which these new insights can help inform practices designed to
enhance students' retention and success, as well as their academic resilience.
Presenters: Jacqueline Stevenson, Head Of Research, Sheffield
Institute Of Education, Sheffield Hallam University; Becca Bland, CEO, Stand
Professor Jacqueline Stevenson is a sociologist of education with a particular interest in policy
and practice relating to equity and diversity in higher education. Key areas of interest are the social
and academic experiences of religious students, Black and Minority ethnic students' degree
attainment and success, and policy and practice relating to the higher education experience of
international students, and of refugees and other forced migrants.
Becca Bland is the founder and Chief Executive of Stand Alone, a charity supporting people of all
ages who have no contact with their family or a key family member. She works alongside many
different partners to improve recognition, visibility and support for some of the most vulnerable
young people in our society.
C7 A value laden journey
Category: Staff support
The session will be an exploration of our values as international student advisors or other staff
working with international students, using an interactive approach. The current pressures on
professional services staff and academic staff in further and higher education can place demands on
us. Most of us go into international education with a commitment to students and their wellbeing.
Our work is underpinned by values, but the environment can seem unsupportive of those values.
We are also in a world of what seem to be increasingly polarised values, where principles to which
we are attached may not be shared.
Questions for this session may include: What matters most to me in my work? What are my
priorities? Perhaps there may even be some surprises along the way.
Presenter: Alison Barty, Head Of Student Advice And Wellbeing, SOAS,
University Of London
Alison works as Head of Student Advice and Wellbeing at SOAS, University of London. At SOAS
she manages a team of counsellors, disability and learning advisors, finance, immigration and
housing advisors and the mental health advisor She has working in the international student field
for over 30 years. She is a trained counsellor and psychotherapist and a Fellow of the British
Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. As well as a regular at UKCISA Conferences she has
presented at Conferences in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
Her particular interests are in intercultural dialogue and managing cultural transition.