Dr John Straker

International perspectives

Name Dr John Straker
Email J.O.Straker@exeter.ac.uk
Position Insessional Programme Manager
Division INTO University of Exeter

Supporting international students through INTO

John Straker is responsible for managing the Insessional Programme run for the University by INTO.  As John explains, the programme is primarily directed at international students taking degree courses at the University for whom English is not their first language, providing them with additional guidance and support; “the service we provide is to…raise their understandings of the expectations of the University in terms of academic practice, and provide language support where necessary”.

The Insessional Programme is highly varied, allowing it to adapt and support the specific and changing needs of international students and staff. With its central focus on providing language support, the programme is made up of three strands; “General English”, “English for General Academic Purposes” and “English for Specific Academic Purposes”.  The latter provides specialist language courses for students studying in particular disciplinary areas, e.g. Business, Law, Education, and Medicine. The programme offers support for students from undergraduate to doctoral level.

Whilst the support element of the Insessional Programme is non-credit bearing, there are a range of credit-rated courses provided for international undergraduate students, with the aim of helping students to develop their academic English communication skills whilst contributing to their degree outcome.  These modules, particularly for Erasmus students, as John explains, “provide a double benefit; firstly, as language students they enable them to really develop their competencies in English… but the second benefit for this particular cohort of students is in terms of their own professional development. Many of them are going to go on to be language teachers, English teachers themselves, and they are quietly making a private study of the sort of methodologies we use to teach…so there are benefits there”.

A further element of the Programme is the weekly family classes. As John explains, these classes are “directed at the partners [of international students]…and they are language courses which focus on the challenges of living and working in the UK, so we have themes around education… [and] we have things around the National Health Service”.

Aim 4: International learning, research & experiences

To provide international perspectives in all programmes and a multi-cultural experience for all students

Studying at an international university

"I think that the internationalisation of Exeter...has been a wonderful thing".

Insessional Programme

"...the notion of taking Insessional classes is built into students' expectations from the beginning".

Value of the Insessional Programme's credit-bearing modules

"…we've had individual students who’ve profited enormously from [the skill development opportunities that the credit-bearing modules provide]”.