Leona Fisher

Operations Manager for Student Services
Finance and Operations

September marks the start of orientation week for the University’s international students. For many of these new students it will be their first time studying in the UK, so ensuring that they are properly welcomed is an important part of making sure they make the most of their time at the University. In this article, we speak to Operations Manager Leona Fisher and find out why orientation week is important.

How has orientation week changed from last year?

"After last year's event, we reviewed the feedback we got and met up with all our volunteers to find out how we can improve the week in future.

There are a number of additional activities this year including some new talks and workshops. We are really keen to get our new international students more involved in University life, so we will be encouraging them to join at least one group in their first few weeks. Joining a group or society at the University is a really good way for new students to make friends and get more involved with the student community.

We've also added in an afternoon called ‘British Playtime’ where students can pick from different activities in the Doug Ellis Sports Centre and at the Students' Union."

Why is orientation week important to the University?

"Orientation Week is a really important time for new international students, for many of them it will be their first time travelling abroad. For any student, starting university can be a scary time, but for international students there are always additional concerns like understanding a new language (and getting to grips with the weather!) Orientation week gives new international and EU students the opportunity to discover the university and the city of Birmingham in a personal, safe and supportive way."

What do you think is the best part of having international students at the University?

"I think we are really lucky to have a community of international students studying at the University as we can all learn a lot about each other’s cultures, lifestyles and traditions. International students bring diversity to the student population and really enhance the learning experience. Being able to indulge in some foreign cuisine is a bonus too!"

What sort of things should people be looking out for?

"We've put the timetable and the programme up on the iCity site so that students and staff can have a look at what’s going on. Personally, I’m looking forward to dancing with the BCU Lion, joining in a flash mob and checking out some talent at our Global Talent Night. The week will end with our main event at Birmingham Council House where there will be a prize giving from the week followed by an evening of entertainment and dancing. In addition, Baker Hall will be open all week, from 9:00am to 4:30pm, as a meeting and information point."

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

"This year will be my seventh orientation week and I’ve been privileged to meet thousands of new international students over those years. I’m still in touch with many students and it’s great to see what they have gone on to achieve. I think I speak on behalf of the whole Operations Team when I say that we all get real satisfaction from meeting our new students and giving them a week that they will always remember. Many of the students meet friends for life during this week and that’s always great to see."