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Final Report Recommendations


‘Enhancing International Postgraduate Student Experience at History, Classics & Archaeology’

by Wendy Ugolini and Alexandra Huang

Final Report Recommendations

April 2022


Welcome Week

  • With additional staff capacity in place, the Graduate School could consider a longer transition period for Welcome Week up until Week 4 with sessions addressing the library, registering with a GP and support services, extensions and special circumstances and English language support. It would also be worth contributing to any University-wide pre-arrival orientation event for international students where practicable.
  • The Graduate School could consider adding text to the current MSc programme handbooks so they contain information on how to navigate student life and on the historical and cultural tourist spots within the city/Scotland as well as the usual information regarding their specific programme of study and support services available.
  • More opportunities or events directed towards specific programmes within HCA.
  • More inter-programme mixing with other postgraduate students within the University.
  • When organising events, the School should consider the wider responsibilities, e.g., part-time working, of some MSc students in terms of fixing dates/ times.

Postgraduate Teaching & Learning

  • PGT course organisers should consider the organisation of students into autonomous learning groups/pre-seminar study groups to encourage socialisation and learning
  • PGT course organisers should stress the purpose of office hours to students to ensure they make use of them
  • There is a need to significantly improve communication about the targeted provision of academic support which HCA offers in conjunction with ELE: both our Academic Writing Skills sessions and our dedicated LEARN site, Academic Language and Literacy for HCA.

Engagement with Assignment Feedback

  • There is a need for clarity on the HCA Common Marking Scheme and Grade Descriptors for international students. An explanation could be routinely provided by MSc course organisers at the first seminar of Semester 1.
  • Encourage course organisers to introduce mid-semester assessments for earlier feedback opportunity

Student Community

  • Provision of more small-scale social events for MSc students which include international students e.g., trips to cinema or football matches. The Graduate School could look to ensure that Programme Directors fully utilise the money available to them for putting on student social events. Students could also be encouraged to access the Student Led Initiative Fund to support social events.
  • Possibility of more cross-MSc Programme interactions

Pastoral Support

  • Continue to disseminate info on University-wide well-being and support services, such as student counselling services. Longer-lasting free therapy sessions would be welcomed by international students.
  • The School should ensure that the mechanisms for receiving and dealing with student complaints are made clear to international students, with the possibility of devolving responsibilities for PGR complaints to the PGR Deputy Director.

Special Support for PhD Students

  • Peer-review and proofreading services for longer pieces of academic work would be particularly helpful for PhD students. Having a ‘buddy’ that could look at PhD student work can provide very practical help for students for whom English is not their first language.
  • To consider organising university-wide conferences, either formal or informal, to provide the opportunity to interact with students from different fields and enhance interdisciplinary knowledge exchange. Similar events co-hosted with other universities would also be helpful, especially for students who are from specialised fields with limited access to peer support.


  • The Graduate School at HCA should set up a Working Group on International Students to address the issues highlighted within this short report and to take forward further initiatives, including working with HCA staff and students on intercultural communication skills. The Working Group should include the PI, the PG Director, the Head of Student Support, the EDI Deputy and the Graduate School Manager.


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