How does the reception and support for international students work?
Studying abroad is challenging. At UC, we help you to tackle it smoothly. The International Services team works with you throughout the process: from managing the visa processes to providing a sense of belonging to UC.
In May 2020, about 1,200 foreign undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students were at UC. In a typical year, this figure may reach 2,000 students among the different levels that are part of mobility programs. Due to health concerns, the pandemic has reduced the number of arrivals - in the first semester of last year were 80 students and, in the second semester, only 10.
The International Services team developed new protocols and action plans for foreigners arriving at UC: Julio Gulin, the coordinator of this team, explained: "It was a collaboration between the partner universities, consulates, and other institutions that contributed to the mobility process."
Strengthening internationalization is part of the new 2020-2025 Development Plan defined for our university. Among its specific objectives is the development of accompaniment programs for foreigners and support programs for community members.
From the moment anyone is accepted into our university, the International Services team starts a process of follow-up and support. This process is available to undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students, as much as researchers and faculty.
The main focus is "to provide professional, effective, and warm support, that improves the international experience" said Maribel Flórez, director of the global training area of the VRAI.
The International Services team's primary goal is to contribute positively to each person who starts the international mobility process, both incoming and outgoing to the UC.
They also offered an International Faculty Services Program (PAE Spanish acronym) to contribute and support foreign faculty's adaptation process in their first year of residence. Which used to be part of the Office of the Academic Vice President, but today it is migrating to the VRAI.
How does this area work with you?
International Services comprises four professionals who have different tasks involving applicants of the mobility program (undergraduate, master's, doctoral, postdoctoral students, and faculty). Their work begins when the student applies to have a study period at UC and ends when they return to their country of origin.
They are in charge of guiding international students and faculty through the necessary visa and insurance procedures. They also work with other areas of the university to ensure that students can access academic support and counseling when needed and are included in all kinds of activities.
Each semester, students are invited to social activities such as the special reception for new students, Welcome Day, campus tours, among others.
Apart from the university's health and sports services, almost 50 student volunteers participate in the "UC Welcome Commission" (CAUC Spanish acronym). This group is responsible for organizing numerous activities to enhance students' integration and knowledge of the university and the country.
From visa procedures to cultural immersion
The difficulties faced by students and professors are mainly related to processes before they arrive in the country, particularly with the process of obtaining their visa. For this purpose, a constant follow-up is carried out, which includes sending a list of instructions.
Upon arrival to our country, socio-cultural adaptation is one of the main challenges for the VRAI team.
They organized activities such as the "language-exchange tandem." The primary purpose is to practice speaking and the cultural integration between Chilean and international students within the UC community.
They also offer the mentoring program "MAI UC Buddy Program," which seeks to build bonds between peers that allow the exchange student to feel part of the UC community.
Each semester holds an anonymous survey conducted for foreigners on the satisfaction of the university experience at UC.
The students stood out from the mobility program:
- The excellent experience they had with the teachers,
- Good relationships with other students,
- All the professional and volunteer team in the deep commitment of International Services to have an excellent experience in UC and the country.
"All those who decide to apply to the mobility program are potential leaders that tackle global challenges. Therefore, the International Services area is a fundamental pillar for all the levels of our university that strengthens and encourages this drive towards internationalization," stated Julio Gulin.