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Wellbeing MOOC

First online course to help international Students with wellbeing

Published on: 14 July 2023

Newcastle University and British Council have launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), helping international students navigate the personal pressures of overseas study.

It will develop good self-care habits to support international students studying in the UK with their wellbeing.

The course will take three weeks to complete beginning in September this year.

‘Great opportunity’

Dr Claire Lomax, from the Psychological Therapies Training and Research Unit at Newcastle University, said: “This is a great opportunity to use our expertise in student mental health to support the wellbeing and mental health of students who come to study in the UK.

“Our pioneering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service for students has supported a significant number of international students over the past five years and through that we have grown our understanding of their unique needs and challenges.”

While the UK is a top destination for international study, many international students face mental health and other wellbeing challenges during their studies.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs lists not understanding cultural references, financial worries and exam stress as just some of the barriers international students face to wellbeing.

Meanwhile, a report from mental health charity, Student Minds, found 81% of international students surveyed said they were “concerned” or “very concerned” about their mental wellbeing ahead of taking up their studies.

To combat this issue, the British Council has partnered with the Psychological Therapies Training and Research Unit at Newcastle University to deliver a MOOC designed to help international students face personal challenges.

The course will take three weeks to complete. Lessons will be delivered through a blend of videos created by tutors and international students from Newcastle University, and interactive live events.

By the end of the course, learners should be able to better navigate living in a new culture and environment, manage their stress levels and time by building a healthy routine, and feel confident to ask for help in any situation.

The course will be moderated by a combination of student mental health experts at Newcastle University supported by current international students, and participants will have access to the help and support they need.

Valuable resources

Elizabeth Tresnan, Study UK Director, British Council, said: "Studying in the UK offers transformative experiences for international students, including world-class education, lifelong memories, and enhanced global employability.

“However, studying abroad also presents challenges such as academic pressure, cultural adjustments, and being away from personal support networks.

“This course aims to help students manage expectations, enhance personal resilience, and build and maintain high levels of wellbeing, and it encourages students to seek assistance when needed and guides them on how and where to access relevant support and services at university and beyond."

Yinbo Yu, Head of Engagement and Partnerships at the UK Council for International Student Affairs and long-term supporter of the Study UK campaign, added: “As a former international student, I know how challenging it can be to experience difficult feelings such as culture shock and homesickness.

“I am pleased to see the partnership between Study UK at the British Council and Newcastle University, providing valuable and accessible resources to help students navigate integrating into a new learning and living environment.”


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