Asian Correspondent » Newman University College Asian Correspondent Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:16:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Parting is such sweet sorrow! Fri, 13 May 2011 09:43:51 +0000

We are sad to say the time has come for our lovely Japanese students from Aichi University to return home as the end of year approaches. However, we couldn’t let them go without asking them to share some of their favourite experiences in the UK and at Newman.

 I was very happy to see how much they had enjoyed their time here and what a wide range of activities they took part in.

 Womens BasketballOne of my wonderful experiences was to join basketball team. First, I was worried about two things, one was whether I could communicate with my team mates or not, because of my English. The other was I could play basketball well or not, I have not played it long time. But my team mates are very nice and friendly. We also had some games. When we had an away game, we went to a university by bus. It was like a short trip!! I had a great time in my team. Thank you very much and I really like my team.-Kayo  


 A British 21st Birthday Party I would like to write about my best friend’s 21st birthday party which is held by his parents. It was in his parents’ house in Shropshire, near Wales. I went by train, and in the train, every notice was written in both English and Welsh, which was really interesting for me. The house was in countryside and was really beautiful. In the party, I enjoyed talking with his relatives and friends, also some typical British party foods cooked by his mother. This was the first time to go to British birthday party, to be in really countryside, to be in typical British house, so everything was new for me and fun to see. I had a really great time.-Misako


Teaching JapaneseThe most interesting experience for me was Japanese lessons I did here. I taught Japanese in Newman and one secondary school. I’m going to write about in secondary school. At first, I was really worried whether I could teach them correctly because my English was not enough to teach something. But teachers there cheered me up and children were so curious about Japanese culture so I could manage it thanks to them. Since I’ve started that, I always feel I want foreigners to know Japan more. It was very nice opportunity for me.-Nanako



Choir FestivalOne of my memorable experiences in Newman was to join the choir. Although I’ve loved singing and sung many kinds of songs in my university in Japan, it was my first chance to sing Requiems and it was really interesting. Everyone in choir was nice and I couldn’t’t wait for every rehearsals. In the end of February, we took part in the annual choir festival in Lincoln Cathedral and it was great! Hundreds of people sung more than ten Requiems in beautiful cathedral, which was very impressed. I felt that music was common in the world! I will never forget this fantastic experience! Thank you very much.-Tomoyo


Comparative EducationI am interested in comparative education so that it has been a good opportunity for me to have had observations on some schools in England. For example, I visited Summerhill school which is the most famous for free school education. I was quite impressed with their teaching method and the children’s independent attitude. Moreover, I took school placement at a primary school once a week regularly. That was another great experience to expand my knowledge and view on education. Thank you so much for all the teachers, staffs and the people who I met in the local community.-Yuki    


If you would like to know more about what Newman has to offer there is further information specifically for international students on our website or if you have any questions we would be happy to help. So contact me by email at or you can call +44 01214761181 ext 2467.

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Top tips for study skills – Part 2 Tue, 10 May 2011 10:05:32 +0000

Hi everyone,

Last week, I offered five study skills tips based on questions students frequently ask.  Here are another 5:

6) How can I read faster?

It’s more important to read well than to read faster.  However, if you really want to read faster, because you have a lot of reading to get through for your course try the following.

Tip: try reading only the first and last lines of each paragraph.  The theory is that the first line of a paragraph is the topic sentence, so contains the main point of the paragraph.  The last line is often a summary, or shows the link to the title.

7) How can I give good presentations?

Being well prepared makes you appear more confident and knowledgeable.

Tip: Plan the presentation really well and practice it, aloud, at least 4 times – ideally in front of a friend so that it feels like you have an audience.

8) How can I manage my time well?

Assignments and exams at university often come along at the same time.  This means you have to organise your time throughout the semester so that your work is not rushed.

Tip: invest in a diary and use it every day to keep control of all your appointments, lectures etc.  Also buy a large wall chart that you can write all your assignment dates on and you can see at a glance what you should be working on.  Use these things to plan when you will start and finish essays, as well as when you will make time to meet up with your friends.

9) How can I be confident in my listening skills?

There is a lot to take in and remember, especially when you first get to Newman.  Luckily you have your International Co-ordinator, Tina, to help clarify any issues, and also your lecturers are very kind and helpful.  The small classes mean that you get the chance to ask your tutors questions.

Tip: invest in a Dicataphone – a recording device that you can use in your lectures.  This way you can record your lectures and listen back at the end of the day to check your understanding.  You won’t have to take notes during the lecture as you can just sit and listen, and then write your notes later.  It means you’ve had the chance to hear the lecture twice.

10) How can I work best in groups?

You will be asked to work in groups to carry out research, presentations and projects.  It can be difficult to organise.

Tip: Meet up as soon as possible to make sure everyone has the same understanding of the task.  Divide the tasks as soon as you can to make sure everyone feels it’s fair.  Choose one person to tie everything up at the end – it’s often the end bit that takes the longest amount of time.

I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful for your preparation in coming to study in the UK, and I look forward to welcoming you to Newman, and doing all that I can to help you with your study skills.

Rhian will be back soon with a blog on what’s going on in  Birmingham and things to do there.  In the meantime, please visit our website where there is further information on a variety of subjects.

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Top tips for study skills – Part 1 Tue, 03 May 2011 10:56:52 +0000

Top 10 Study Skills Tips

Hi everyone,

My name’s Jacqui Ridge-Stearn and I’m the Learning Support Tutor at Newman University College.  I’m here to make sure our students feel confident with their academic work, so I offer plenty of study skills tips through weekly workshops, individual support sessions and group sessions – whatever students feel would suit them best.

Here are five tips based on questions students frequently ask:

1) What is the basic layout of an ‘English’ University essay or assignment?

The usual assignment for academic work is based on three parts: 1. An introduction, where you highlight the main points in the essay.  2. A ‘body’ of information, divided into paragraphs, where you explain the argument, backed up with references from other writers.3. A conclusion where you summarise the main points from the body.

Tip: Plan your essays carefully to make sure you include all your ideas into the essay format.

2)  How do I reference my work?

It is important that you use evidence in your writing to back up your ideas.  We use a referencing system called Harvard Referencing and there are many opportunities for you to find out how to use this before you start at Newman.  It is also known as the author, date referencing system.  It’s important that you use good referencing so that you are not ‘plagiarising’ – this is where you are using other people’s ideas without stating whose idea it is.

Tip:  go to one of the library workshops on referencing – they tell you all you need to know. Alternatively, look at the excellent Newman referencing guide:

3) What kind of language should I use in my essays?

Academic language is very formal.

Tip:  practice some exercises on how to make your language more formal at:

Click on ‘exercises’ and ‘features’ to find some useful tasks with answers.

4) How can I make sure my note-taking skills are good?

It’s important that you develop good note-taking skills for university study.

Tip: do not try to listen or read and write at the same time.  In a lecture, listen to your lecturer for a few minutes, then jot down the main points that you remember.  Same with a book – read a page then write down the key points.  In this way you should not collect too many notes to manage.  Don’t try to write everything down – it can’t all be useful.

5) How can I check my grammar is at the right level?

Tip: Brush up on your grammar before you write your first essay.  LearnHigher, a British Government funded support resource  has designed a fantastic quiz called Grammar Beagle:

Answer the 40 questions, and click on more information about any you have got wrong.

Next time … another five study skills tips, covering reading, time management, listening and working in groups.

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The Great Royal Wedding Escape Thu, 21 Apr 2011 13:20:16 +0000

I saw online a few days ago, that in a survey of 740 people carried out by social networking site CitySocialising, it was suggested that 18% of people planned to leave the country altogether in time for the ceremony!

I’m just curious – is that because 18% of them don’t want to watch the Royal Wedding for whatever reason it may be (Republicans, not interested in weddings) or is it because like me, people are taking advantage of so many Bank Holidays all falling in such a short space of time?

This weekend it’s Easter.  This means that Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays, 3 days back in work, then the Royal Wedding on the Friday, (which is a bank holiday) followed by the May Day (Bank) Holiday the following Monday.  So, all I’ve done is book three days of my holiday but I’m getting an 11 day break.

I’m making the most of this by flying to Sweden this weekend to visit friends, and then some chill out time at home at the end of the week.  I will be watching the Royal Wedding as I’m curious about the frock, and it is one of the things that Britain does well – the ceremony, and pomp and circumstance of state occasions.  It would be a shame to miss it.

I think one of the reasons that so many people will be going away is because we can.  We’re very lucky in the UK that within 4 or 5 hours we can be in at least 30 different countries.  Feel free to sit there with an airline destination maps, timetables and prove me wrong!

We’re also fortunate  in that we have quite a few cheap airlines in the UK.

As a student living in the UK if you do want to travel, a Schengen Visa and low cost airlines make the rest of Europe readily accessible.

Without wanting to offer any competitive advantage to any particular airline the main low cost airlines out of Birmingham are: Easyjet, BMI Baby and Ryanair.  Between them, especially when they have promotions on, you can pick up flights for as little as £8.

However, beware!  Similar to Airasia, it’s the extras that cost.  The flight may be advertised at £8 (if you’re happy to fly at 6:25 in the morning and be there at 4:25 to check in and the airport is in the middle of nowhere, or they haven’t sold out of the cheap tickets!) then you find that you could be charged for

  • online check in
  • delay levy
  • luggage
  • priority boarding
  • pre-booking seats together
  • food
  • charge for using a credit card

and before you know it your £8 fare is now £55.  Which is still cheap – one way!  Depending on when you return it could be the same price, more expensive, cheaper…..

Bear in mind that some airlines don’t fly into the main airport – so you’ll have to pay a lot of money to get from the smaller secondary airport to the city centre.

You should be aware as well that you could be booking two single flights, not a return, so if you miss your flight out, it’s unlikely you’ll get a refund on the “return” flight.  Always check the terms and conditions, and make sure that you’ve got good travel insurance.

All of a sudden it’s not looking quite so cheap.  As long as you’re aware of what to look out for, you can make it work for you.  It’s a personal choice.

We fly out of Manchester tomorrow, but we have to be there at 5:30 am to check in.  We’ve booked parking, we’ll pay for the petrol for the journey and have to leave in the middle of the night to get there.

But, for the two of us, £200 all in for parking, fuel, flights to get to Sweden and back over Easter is a price we’re prepared to pay to see our friends, considering how much more it would be to fly with a “grown up” airline (KLM, Lufthansa, SAS etc) at a reasonable time from Birmingham.

We’re staying with friends.  If you add in the price of a hotel or hostel then you have to be very shrewd when booking cheap flights!

Same applies to travel within the UK – you can get really cheap train tickets and bus tickets, but you have to book a long time in advance and sometimes only for certain trains.  If you miss these trains it can be very expensive.  (I missed my train to Edinburgh in December and ended up paying a LOT of money to get there in time for a conference).

You can check out websites like The Train Line, Megabus, or National Express.  But be careful, and like the airlines, read the small print.

It can be a bargain, but make a bargain work for you.

So that’s how you can take advantage of living in the UK to visit some really great places in Europe, even North Africa.  But don’t forget, you’ve got the whole of the UK to visit as well and there is so much more to the UK than London and Edinburgh.

I’ll blog after my visit to Sweden and talk to you about what you can do in the UK.  I’ll make some recommendations that aren’t just about the tourist trail – going to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Buckingham Palace, but maybe doing something that the locals do – going to a Car Boot Sale, a National Trust property or to a pub quiz.

Living in the UK isn’t just about seeing the major tourist destinations but about experiencing what British people do with their time, and it may surprise you – have you considered an Eisteddfods or Pantomimes at Christmas, a Fetes, Cheese Rolling or Swamp Football, open air concerts in country parks….so many things some of them quite surprising and now typically British!

Has anyone done anything or visited somewhere in the UK that wasn’t on the “tourist map” that you wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for living in the UK or being introduced to something by your British friends?

It would be great if you leave a comment below and share your experiences.

So, Hej då’ as we say in Sweden (Good bye!).

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I’m an international student, help me find a job !!! Wed, 20 Apr 2011 10:46:49 +0000

During your Course …

Careers can help you with job search, looking for part time work, voluntary positions and work placements. Working in the UK can help you to improve your skills in the work place. (You’ll need to check the work restrictions on your student visa, but generally for a Tier 4 visa you can work 20 hours a week during termtime and full time during the vacation).  You can attend a drop in session any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 12.30 and 2.30 with Jacki Barnett in the careers hub. Jacki can help you in your search, writing your CV and many other things. To discuss your future career, you need to book an appointment with Melissa Clarke. Workshops are also available; please check out the careers website to find out what’s on? After Graduation …

The majority of international students return to their home countries to begin their careers. In terms of working in the UK, there have been recent changes to the work permit system – the points based system. The work and study entry routes to the UK have been put in to five tiers. Full details are available on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) Working in the UK Although this is becoming increasingly difficult and things are changing all the time, if you are eligible, we can assist you with finding work in the UK.

Work Outside the UK …

Whether you are seeking a career in your home country or in another country outside the UK, you can contact the careers service and we can assist you with information and advice about researching the labour market, job hunting strategies, preparing CV’s etc. We have lots of resources in the Careers Hub. A great starting point for job search is on the Prospects website We have profile information for every country, so let us know in advance of your appointment and we can research the correct information before your appointment.

Contact …

If you have any questions, you can contact Careers on the emails below:

Melissa Clarke – Senior Careers and Work Related Learning Officer –

Jacki Barnett – Advice and Guidance Worker/Employer Liaison and Careers Assistant –

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Tips on completing your university application form – Part 2 – Personal statements Fri, 15 Apr 2011 15:45:41 +0000

In order to apply for a place at Newman University College you will need to write a personal statement as part of the application form. Here are the main points you should consider.

Firstly, you should leave yourself plenty of time to write a personal statement so you can show it to others and then edit it until you are happy with the final version. You may find it difficult to write about yourself. So start by making a list of your :-

  • Qualifications
  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Hobbies
  • Achievements
  • Future career plans

Don’t forget to ask friends and family to contribute. You may be surprised at how much you have achieved.

When you have all this information you can then review it and see what you need for your personal statement. It is important to discard information that is not necessary to your application, you need to stay relevant and to the point. One benefit of applying directly to Newman is that you have more space for your personal statement compared to a UCAS application form, which can be quite restrictive. However, please do not assume this means you can just include anything in your statement.

In order to match your qualifications and skills with the course you are applying for you can get more information from looking at the entry profiles for courses on the UCAS website. This will remind you of the qualifications and other criteria a university is looking for in a candidate.

So what should you include?

  • It is important to explain why you want to study the course you have chosen. Tell us what you enjoy about the subject.
  • Tell us why you think you are suitable for the course. You may want to make links to your personal interests and hobbies, perhaps showing a long term interest in a subject.
  • As an International student it would be useful if you mention any studies or examinations you have taken in English. Do you have any examples of when you have used English outside your studies?
  • How does the degree course fits in with your career plans?

Final points to remember are; don’t exaggerate, we want to know about the real you! It is also important to think about the organisation and flow of your personal statement. Does it make sense? Does it follow a logical progression from one point to another?

Lastly, before your send your application, make sure you check your personal statement for spelling and grammatical errors and ask someone else to check it for you.

For more information and advice the UCAS website has comprehensive guidance on how to complete a personal statement.

If you need to know more about Newman before you apply, there is further information specifically for international students on our website. If you have any questions about your application we would be happy to help. Contact me by email at or you can call +44 01214761181 ext 2467.

In the meantime, have a good weekend, and check out the blog next week when we’ll cover Study Skills for when you come to the UK to study.

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Tips on completing your university application form – Part 1 Mon, 11 Apr 2011 09:27:58 +0000

So you want to apply to study at Newman University College and are probably wondering what to do next. Well, you have two choices, you can apply directly to Newman or you can apply through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). To apply directly to Newman you will first need to download a copy of our application form.

If you do apply through UCAS the code for Newman University College is N36. The application process is done online and the application deadline for International (Non-EU) Students is 30 June 2011. So what is the cost through UCAS? If you choose to apply to more than one course, university or college you need to pay £21 GBP. If you only apply to one course at one university or college, you pay £11 GBP. UCAS is also a good source of general information for students applying to UK universities.

However, whichever way you decide to apply accuracy is essential. Please make sure you fill in every field on the application form. It is particularly important that you tell us the following:-

  • Your level of Englishe.g. IELTS
  • Name of your secondary school
  • List GCSEs or equivalents and results
  • A Level equivalents that you are taking or have taken and results/predicted results
  • Send in transcripts as well as certificates
  • Provide references
  • A personal statement

When choosing a course it is important that you match your skills, qualifications and career aspirations to the course you are applying to. Make sure you check our entry requirements and double check for any essential prerequisites. This is particularly important if you are applying to popular courses.

You may need to check your qualifications are suitable for the course of study you wish to take. If you are unsure whether or not your qualifications meet our entry requirements, contact us at Newman and we will be able to advise you.

As an international student you should also check that the course is at the relevant level of study and length to entitle you to a UK visa for study. You will find up to date information and support at the UKCISA website. Please be aware that you cannot study a part time degree – only a full time degree – so be very careful when looking at courses online and in prospectuses and make sure there is a full time option.

This may seem a lot of work but it is well worth the effort as it means your application is more likely to go through the process smoothly as we will have all the information we need to make you a speedy offer.

If you need to know more about Newman before you apply there is further information specifically for international students on our website or if you have any questions about your application we would be happy to help. So contact me by email Tina, at or you can call me on +44 121 476 1181 ext 2467.

Good luck with your application!

Coming in Part 2……. What is a personal statement, and tips on how to write one?

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Getting a UK Sudent Visa is a nightmare, right? Part 2 Fri, 01 Apr 2011 14:34:31 +0000

Visas  – what’s changed and when will it change?

Many of the changes, which will be introduced between April 2011 and April 2012, will not affect you directly for studying at Newman University College.  Some of the UKBA changes are listed below, and how it affects your application for a visa to study at Newman:

  • From April 2012, any institution wanting to sponsor students will need to hold Highly Trusted Status.
    Newman University College is already a Highly Trusted Sponsor and has been from the start
  • Students studying at undergraduate degree level must have English language skills at level B2 or above, of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
    We ask for a minimum of IELTS 6.0 so this won’t affect you if you’re planning on studying at Newman
  • Students will be able to spend a maximum of five years on a student visa at undergraduate and Master’s level.
    Our undergraduate programmes are a maximum of three years (our work placements happen during the academic year not on a separate placement year), and postgraduate programmes will be one year long.  This gives you plenty of time to complete both an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree within the allocated time frame.
  • The UKBA will treat students more favourably if you come from a ‘low risk’ country to Newman University College who have Highly Trusted sponsor status.
    This mean less visa bureaucracy for most Newman students.
  • Students who are not at university will have limited rights to work in the UK on student visas.
    As Newman is a university, this won’t affect you.  You can continue to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full time during the holidays
  • Students who are not at university will be limited in the length of time they can spend on a placement as part of their course – 33 percent will be the maximum.
    As we are a University this will not affect you (and our work placements would fall within this anyway)
  • It will not be possible to bring dependants to the UK unless students are sponsored by their home government or are on a postgraduate course which lasts for 12 months or more.
    At present we don’t have full time postgraduate programmes, but when we do, they will meet this requirement of being longer than 12 months.
  • After April 2012, at the end of the course, students can not switch to a Tier 1 Post Study Work visa.
    Previously students had the option of a two year post study work visa, unfortunately this route has now been closed.  However, you will have the opportunity to switch to a Tier 2 visa

So it’s not all doom and gloom with regards to visas.  The entry requirements for the visas haven’t actually changed, just conditions for some programmes and institutions.

Be aware though, that as the changes are brought in over the next year or so, that it is important to keep up to date with any new information.  The best places to look are on the UKBA web pages as they will offer the most up to date information, and also UKCISA (who in most cases offer practical advice), and of course our website.

Hopefully this will cover the questions I got a couple of weeks ago about visas in the UK, but as usual you can comment on the post, drop me an e-mail ( or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs Newman).

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Getting a UK student visa is a nightmare, right? Part 1 Thu, 31 Mar 2011 13:51:38 +0000

You may not only think that, but you’re probably wondering what’s going on in the UK at the moment as no doubt news stories will have filtered through about the government’s changes on visas.

Firstly, it’s really not that bad getting a visa.  I’m sure everyone has heard horror stories, but have you noticed how you only ever hear the bad, and not the good?   In most countries, there are more visas granted than there are that are rejected.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has made amendments to some of the restrictions on visas and I hope to be able to explain below some of the things that are going on.

Firstly however, how about some basics?  The UKBA have got a video that you can watch (in English or in Mandarin).

But I’ve put some information together for you below.  BUT, please visit the websites I’ll mention at the bottom of the blog (tomorrow) as things will change.  You need to keep up to date,  as do I, and these are the websites that I visit too.

What kind of visa will you need? If you are not an European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, you will need to obtain a visa or “entry clearance”.

In 2009, the UK introduced a Points Based System for Tier 4 (General) Visa for Adult Students.  All of our programmes are one year or more, which means if you come and study with us you will need a Tier 4 Visa.  To qualify you need to get 40 points to get your visa.

You will be awarded 30 points for the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) issued by a licensed sponsor (that’s us) and 10 points for Maintenance (money to cover fees and living expenses).

The maintenance fees need to have been in your bank account for at least 28 days.  These will include your first year’s tuition fees and a minimum of £600 per month (minimum 9 months or £5400) to cover your living costs.

At Newman we issue your CAS once you have an unconditional offer letter and you’ve paid your deposit.

You can only apply within 3 months of the start date of your programme.  So if you’re coming to study in September, you won’t be ably to apply any sooner than June.  However, please apply as soon as you can because some countries or offices will be busier than others – so check out the different visa processing times.

Don’t forget that your biometric details will be included in your visa and must be submitted with your visa paperwork.

How much does it cost? The UKBA publish the costs here.

So, those are the basics.  Tomorrow I will tell you about the changes that the UKBA are bringing in and how it will affect you.  As usual you can comment on the post, drop me an e-mail ( or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs Newman).

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Size really does matter Wed, 23 Mar 2011 17:07:02 +0000
  • Big is better.
    • Small is beautiful.
      • Quality not quantity.
        • Good things come in small packages.
          • Which one do you think is better?

How about the best of both worlds?

You may have noticed that we’re Newman University College and you are wondering what’s the difference between a University and a University College?  Size that’s all – pure and simple.  So, size really does matter.

In the UK, the only difference between being a University and a University College is that you need over 4000 students to be a university.  We award our own degrees, we deliver the full range of programmes, undergraduate, postgraduate and PhDs, but we only have just over 3000 students.  So in our case, small really is beautiful.

Quality not quantity

Our programmes are challenging, and because we have relatively small class sizes it means you can’t hide like you could in a big lecture theatre in a big university!  Your lecturers will know your name, and we have an interactive teaching style not possible in larger groups.  You’ll also get more individual attention, as the staff to student ratio is excellent and our approachable academic staff are able to meet with you to discuss projects, lectures or assessments, often without the need to book an appointment.

And being small, doesn’t mean that we can’t invest either.  Over £20 million is being invested on improving the campus for students, including a vibrant new-build entrance and state-of-the-art library, creating a modern and attractive learning environment.  This will be ready in September this year and I for one can’t wait .

Best of both worlds?

Newman is based in the city of Birmingham but not in the centre.  There are just under a million people in and around Birmingham and a student population of about 65,000 people.

We’re based about 8 miles (12 kms) from the city centre right next to the Bartley Green reservoir.  You can be in the city centre for all the bars, clubs, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, canals and shops within about 30 minutes on the bus.

If you want to explore further afield, Birmingham New Street station has regular train services to destinations throughout the country.  Birmingham Airport has flights to destinations around the world making it possible to not only visit the UK but other desintations in Europe as well.  (I’ll tell you more about a visit I took this month in a later blog)

And finally – what’s in a name?

A small name – Newman, but it means so much.  We are named after our patron, Blessed John Henry Newman, who was a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and Beatified in September 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.  As a University College our mission is centred on the Catholic values of tolerance and inclusion and we are proud to welcome staff and students of all religions and backgrounds.

So coming up in the next few blogs: Tina will give you an update on the fundraising that is still going on for the Japanese Relief Fund; I’ll also be giving you some information on visas and hopefully about what’s going on in the UK at the moment with regards to changes to the visa system.  In the meantime, keep in touchvisit our website, comment on the post, drop me an e-mail ( or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs, Newman).

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Random acts of kindness after Japan quake Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:29:10 +0000


My name is Tina Wilkinson and I work in the International Office at Newman University College.

We have all been affected by the terrible events in Japan and as individuals and an institution felt the need to channel our energies into some concrete support. So when we were approached by the five students from Aichi University in Japan, who are currently studying at Newman, with a fundraising idea we were only too happy to work together.

They decided to raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross appeal.  In return for a donation the students taught other students and staff how to make popular origami models. In particular, they are hoping to produce 1000 origami cranes as this is an ancient Japanese tradition called ‘Senbazuru’. The first three cranes were made by the Principal, Professor Peter Lutzeier, Yuki Ishikawa and Misako Yamamoto, only another 997 to go!

Fortunately, the students’ families and friends are safe but as you can imagine it is very difficult for them to be so far from home when their country is going through such a difficult time. As one of the students, Misako Yamamoto told us,

“People are still suffering. I myself was very upset on Friday and the whole weekend and felt really hopeless.

But I believe that we Japanese can overcome this horrible disaster as we did before. And we want to help them even just a small thing.”

If you are not lucky enough to have a friendly Japanese student to show you how to make your own crane you can always download instructions.

 As well as all the students who have being giving their time to make cranes and donate, Ahmed Khan a fellow student studying  Creative Arts, also raised funds for the appeal by spending the day blindfolded. I’m told that half way through the day Ahmed is not finding it easy. It may be a case of, please do not try this at home!

Our students are working together with students from other institutions around the UK to raise money and if you want to contribute you can donate online.  All funds raised will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross appeal.

I have been a guest blogger today and Rhian will be back next week with more news from Newman and she will let you know if we made our 1000 cranes. If you want to get in touch you can email me at

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What have Motorbikes and Quality got in common? Thu, 10 Mar 2011 13:56:08 +0000

Apparently lots if you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert M Pirsig).  It’s not about Motorbikes or Zen, it’s about quality, how you quantify if, and how it drove one man literally mad.  I’ve heard that it’s a good read but I never really managed to get my head around it – probably because I don’t really get Philosophy.  I’m more of a practical thinker myself.  However, it does raise an interesting question – How do you measure quality?

This week we have the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) coming to audit the university.  In fact they should already be here.  I’m meeting with them today to talk about our Student Support procedures along with other members of staff.  This has involved a lot of preparation on my part to ensure that I’m all clued up about QAA as it’s the first time that I will have been involved in an institutional audit. 

Having done my research this week I’ve learnt a lot about how we do things here at the university and the impact it has on our students.

So who are the QAA and what do they do?

All universities that provide higher education in the UK are autonomous.  We’re not owned by the state, but most of us receive government funding.

UK higher education has an excellent international reputation and each institution does their part in ensuring that they meet these rigorous standards.  The QAA check that as universities we are doing a good job.  They visit all institutions on a regular basis to audit procedures to ensure that we are offering a consistent and high-quality education. 

We will be audited this week by a panel of our peers i.e. people from other universities in the UK.  They’ll look for evidence of good practice, how we get feedback from students, how we act upon that feedback, if we’ve made any changes required since the last audit, any areas of concern.

We’ll then get an interim report about 8 weeks after the visit for us to feedback on and then the final report will be published within 20 weeks.

Sounds pretty boring so why should you be interested?

Students get involved in the audit too. Neman Students Union put together a written submission for the QAA and spoke with the students about the quality not just of education, but support, customer service, pretty much everything that a student would have contact with.  It makes for interesting reading. 

But what’s it got to do with me?

You can be sure than whether you’re coming to Newman University College or any other UK institution, that we all have the highest academic standards that stand up to rigorous scrutiny.

This gives you peace of mind when you go back home that you are getting a degree from a recognised state funded university.  Also,it’s not just the university name, but the Higher Education system in the UK is recognised and respected worldwide.  

You never now, by the time I finish  blogging we may have had the report back and I’m sure I’ll be able to share with you some of the highlights. Meanwhile, wish me luck for my meeting with the QAA today!

In my next blog I’ll tell you some more about our University College and then get into some practical things like the application process and personal statements.  Feel free to comment on this post, drop me an e-mail ( or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs Newman).

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Not exactly original, is it? Tue, 01 Mar 2011 10:08:47 +0000

“This is a new blog, and I’m new to blogging”. How many times has that been written in the blogosphere?  Just because it’s true doesn’t make it front page news.  It doesn’t excuse me from writing a bad or a boring blog just because it’s my first time either.  Hopefully, you won’t find it boring or bad.  You may even let me know what you think about the blog as we go along.

It’s not really all about me

I’m the Head of the International Office at Newman University College and I’ve been with Newman University College since September last year.  Before that I worked in another big university’s international office.  All in all, I’ve worked with international students for nearly 7 years, and been fortunate enough to travel to some fantastic places and meet some wonderful people.

What’s it all about?

You should find over the next few months the information that I’ll be sharing will be useful on your journey towards studying in the UK – or even just making up your mind about whether to study overseas.

A lot of what I say will be relevant whether or not you choose to study at Newman University College, in the same city, in the UK, or somewhere else in the world.

What am I going to talk about over the coming months?

I hope to be covering topics which are of interest to you as a student thinking about university in the UK.  Here are just a few:

  • How To Write a Personal Statement, giving you some idea about what we’re looking for
  • The city that we’re based in – Birmingham – what it’s like, how to get here, and the surrounding area, including famous places like Stratford upon Avon – birthplace of Shakespeare
  • Stuff going on at the University College like our Fairtrade Fortnight and Climate week
  • Tips about everything from study to travel
  • Different perspectives – from staff and students
  • UK qualifications and the different types – what’s the difference between a BA and BSc?
  • Visas and how the new fee regime in the UK will affect  you (it won’t but there has been some confusion)
  • Careers advice and getting a job
  • Links to website that should help you when researching overseas study and your options
  • Guest blogs from my colleagues

I’ll be asking you questions too and if you send me some queries of your own I may be able to dedicate some blogs to answering them

All in all you should fine the coming blogs useful, informative and even entertaining.

In the meantime, if you have any suggestions on what you’d like me to talk about over the coming months,  comment on the post, drop me an e-mail ( or contact me via Facebook (Rhian Dobbs, Newman).

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