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Flower of the Ruhr instead of Concrete desert – RUB receives good marks from the International Student Barometer

Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) took part in the survey “International Student Barometer” for the second time in autumn 2011. This survey is conducted by the firm i-graduate and is carried out at 238 universities in 16 countries.
All international students at RUB who came to Germany to study were called upon to take part. 2725 students were contacted and 534 of these answered questions about why they chose to study at RUB and their experiences gained so far. 78% of the participants were regular students who are carrying out a degree at RUB and 22% were exchange students.

Good marks for the cafeteria and short-distance public transport

80% of the participants would recommend RUB to their friends and other people from their home countries. This is a 5% increase compared to 2010! The exchange students and postgraduates are especially happy. Exchange students were extremely happy in all areas covered by the survey and they reported benefiting from a wide range of support offers available to them. To expand on this point, a total of almost 90% of the participants admitted to being altogether satisfied with their stay at RUB.
An example of one area which was praised is campus orientation. The catering on campus and living costs were also well-rated. The improvements implemented as part of the mobility concept were evidently very well received, as RUB was awarded 3rd place in the whole of Germany in the area “transport”. General safety measures on campus and in the city itself were also well perceived and as safety is not something international students take for granted, this matter has a strong impact for them.
There were some criticisms regarding the allocation of rooms in the halls of residence by the AKAFÖ student services. However, the survey showed that most students turn out to be very pleased with their accommodation once they have actually moved in.

Improvements to service

It seems the participants do not experience difficulties when taking care of necessary formalities such as registration, extending a visa etc. This is most certainly due them regularly taking advantage of RUB’s service facilities such as the International Office. In particular the IT support received top marks in this area. In total, support and advice services were ranked much higher than in the previous year. A good 17% more participants were happy with these services compared to the year before, meaning that a total of 80% have now expressed their satisfaction. Consistent improvements have been made to the services offered to international students. This can be seen in the International Office with the establishment of RUBiss (RUB international student services) which combines all services for international students under one roof. In addition to this, “international pilots” were appointed in the different administrative departments and offices in 2011 and they are responsible for dealing with any possible requests and concerns from international guests. Other service facilities such as sports also expand their offers for international participants.

Important: Quality of teaching and research

The participants stated that life on campus makes studying more enjoyable. However, when it comes to choosing a place to study, the prospective international students make a decision based on the quality of teaching and research at the university. RUB’s reputation and the quality of teaching were the most important factors which came up when participants were asked why they chose to come to Bochum. Friends and RUB’s websites were a big help during the decision-making process.
RUB is also able to cater for the students’ high expectations during the course of their studies. Results show that the participants were especially happy with the classes and course content. They identified a need for support, above all in the transition phase between university and the working world. Participants would like to see an increase in possibilities to carry out work experience during their studies and improvements to careers advice.

Desire for more integration

The participants admitted that they find it difficult to get to know both fellow international students and German students in Bochum. They would like to experience more of the German culture and the International Office is catering for this by offering more events as part of its semester programme. For example the staff are planning a cheerful afternoon consisting of baking cakes and having chats over coffee. Another event promoting integration would be the “Bochum Teatime Conversations” arranged by the Institute for German Cultural Studies, during which German and international students and researchers discuss topics specific to German culture. The student organisation “ESN” also hosts a “German Evening” which is not just for exchange students.

Social media: It’s hard to imagine life without it!

Communication across social networks such as Facebook or Twitter is becoming increasingly important and this was also a result of the survey. RUB has already been able to reach many international students and inform them about its offers. Approximately 65% reported seeing RUB on one or more social networking sites. These networks are mainly used as a way of communicating and there is less emphasis on providing information. However an exception is made for exchange students who use the information on Facebook and other social networking sites to help them prepare for their stay at RUB.

Feedback from outsiders with some surprises

All in all, the results of the survey show that RUB is headed in the right direction by carrying out continuous improvements to its offers and services available to international students. The International Student Barometer provides an insight into the conditions and developments on campus from an outsider’s point of view and frequently leads to surprising results. These findings from the survey will now influence the work carried out by the University Administration and the different faculties and ensure further innovations which the students will be able to critically evaluate in the next survey.

Listen To

A radio feature from "CT das radio" about the International Student Barometer.

Interview ISB   (4.0 MB)


Ulrike Herrlich