Sandra Elliott , reflects on her recent role of International Development Director at Cardiff University
I took up the role of International Development Director at the university in 2005. This involves the recruitment of international students, helping forge links with overseas institutions and enhancing the reputation of the university overseas. As such most matters with an international flavour appear on my desk at some point. It also means I get to travel to some far-flung parts of the globe which is not as glamorous as it might sound – Cardiff Airport at 5am with the prospect of 14 hours travel ahead is far from exotic! But I would not miss the opportunity to see new places and meet prospective students and other contacts.
This makes for a, at times, challenging job, but one that is never boring. In any one day, I can be discussing a new link with an institution in China, finalising details for a trip to Malaysia, giving advice to a department on recruiting overseas students or reviewing plans for the marketing activity we will undertake in the year ahead.
It has been a privilege to be a part of the developing international links within Cardiff. There are now over 3,000 students from outside the EU from over 100 countries studying here. I have tremendous admiration for the students who travel thousands of miles to commence study in a strange country, especially when, for many of them, it is their first time in the UK. We try to make the transition as painless as possible but there are always issues, be they financial, adapting to a difference learning environment grappling with English or just the weather!
I am always amazed at how many global events have an impact on my daily job. We recently welcomed four students from Indonesia on a scholarship programme put in place by UK universities in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. The recent bomb in Islamabad has meant many students from Pakistan have had a prolonged wait for their visas as the UK visa office was close to the hotel where the bomb happened.
As the reputation of Cardiff develops overseas through research, partnerships and the flow of international students, it makes the role more challenging but also more rewarding and ever changing. So congratulations to Cardiff University on reaching this 125th anniversary milestone and I look forward to even greater success in the decades to come.