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Durham University

Durham University News


Sector-leading pre-sessional programmes offer world-class welcome for international students

(20 November 2018)

Over 750 international students were welcomed to Durham through the Pre-sessional Programme this summer, the highest number yet to benefit from the sector-leading course.

Durham University’s Pre-sessional programmes, run by The Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) are open to students who have accepted an offer for a degree programme at Durham and wish to improve their academic English literacy skills before beginning their course.

Alongside the course in Durham City and for the first time this year, the University, also co-ordinated two Pre-sessional programmes for talented students in Culiacan and Chihuahua, Mexico.

Intensive and tailored academic tuition

Pre-Sessional Programmes, which are run by the Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD), have been recognised as sector-leading by the British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes (BALEAP). BALEAP sets rigorous criteria to ensure the high standards of courses in English Language and Study Skills, offering accreditation to institutions who meet these.

Programmes vary in both length and content, and are discipline-focussed to give the most relevant introduction for students to their chosen degree path. They span from five to thirty week programmes, with all students finishing at the same point, ready to begin their degree programmes at the start of the academic year.

The full Durham Student Experience

During the intensive academic course, students get the unique opportunity to live in Josephine Butler College, where, as members of the College they were able to partake fully in college life and activities, which make up an important part of the Durham student experience.

Entertainment organised for students includes formal dinners, regular social events and weekend excursions to other UK cities and attractions, concluded by a Farewell Ball. Students are also allocated a mentor from the local community who helps ease their transition.

During the Pre-sessional programme, international students are also introduced to wider University services including Careers and Enterprise, Disability Support, the Library Service and the University’s Counselling Service. This ensures students know how and where to seek additional help throughout their degree programme at Durham.

Lifeng Xu, MA Translations Studies student, commented: “As a foreign student, I felt a little bit nervous before I came to the UK because I have never taken any courses overseas and I’m not familiar with the education system in the UK. However, Durham’s pre-sessional course offered a great opportunity for us to get used to the academic life and enable us to be more prepared for future courses. We were all members of Josephine Butler College when we were studying in the pre-sessional course. Josephine Butler College played an important role during that month. It really helped me to feel comfortable in a foreign country far away from home.”

Read more about Lifeng's experience here.

The warmest of welcomes

Professor Alan Houston, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) commented: “We recognise that moving to a new country to start a degree programme can be a very daunting experience. Through ongoing collaboration with Josephine Butler College and wider University services, the Pre-sessional team are able to offer overseas students the warmest of welcomes, to the University and their degree course, to Durham, and to the UK.”

Professor Houston continued: “The team work tirelessly to ensure the quality and relevance of the academic training for a growing number of students, and the popularity of the programmes is a testament to their success in doing this.”

Programme in Mexico

For the first time this year, the Pre-sessional team at Durham worked closely with partners in the UK including University of Leeds, and in Mexico, to deliver a new programme in Culiacan and Chihuahua for students who have shown exceptional ability in science. The scheme aimed to give students the skills to access educational opportunities around the world.

Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD)

DCAD offers a wide range of programmes and services designed to enhance learning opportunities for all students and staff throughout their degree programme or on their career path. DCAD also offers continued support for students in Academic English skills throughout their degree programmes.

Further information

Student blog - What are Pre-sessional Programmes like?

Summer Pre-sessional Programmes

Josephine Butler College – Pre-sessional welcome

Durham Centre for Academic Development

Information for International Students

Study at Durham

Student Experience

Global Durham  

International Study Centre