Kingston University have implemented a PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) scheme as part of its broader strategy to help international students feel welcome and supported. The scheme helps new students settle into life in the UK and adapt to a new education system by having progressed students answer questions, lead discussions and help in classes.
Kingston’s efforts to make students feel at home with PAL was even featured last year in an article in The Guardian on how Universities are helping International students feel at home. The scheme is beneficial because it builds on students’ academic and social skills. Kingston’s Head of Centre, Jessica Coupe, believes “'the alumni attending classes is particularly effective as they facilitate discussion and give newer students confidence in class.” This added support makes Kingston University a great place to be international, with 36% of the student population consisting of international students (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018).
One PAL, Ali, explained that it was not all about student achieving higher grades, but also helping them relax. As a member of the scheme, Ali believes that “some students might feel more confident speaking to a student rather than speaking to the professor.”
PAL has helped international and domestic students alike, highlighting the positive difference the International Study Centre has made to the student experience. PALs receive £10.22 per hour for their help, with Graham Walker, a lecturer helping run the programme, describing this as a “fantastic investment, based on the support they’re able to provide”.
Ali added that being part of PAL had improved his communication skills, built his network, and made him feel like he gave something back.
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