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Feedback on the First Year International Student Experience (FYISE) activities for the past two months.

Based on the goal of the task team as defined during the first meeting which took place on 3 March 2011, it is necessary to add that the committee will also strive to look at all possible ways for improving, coordinating, and fostering quality of services provided to UJ students and international students in particular. To achieve these goals, it will be required of the task team to scrutinise the processes international students go through. These processes are not only limited to the main academic processes which entail taking classes and writing assessments. Vital administrative processes must also be considered. These processes, which are not limited to, will have to include students enrolment and registration, student housing selection, and the orientation process. It is imperative to understand these processes if the task team intends to suggest ways of improving service delivery to students. Monitoring the processes will be a good starting point in order to understand what the issues which need to be attended to are. It is crucial to obtain feedback on the processes from all stakeholders, from those who have set up the processes to the students who go through it, including the personnel working within the processes. As part of the above mentioned goals, the committee undertook activities as stated in its Draft Action Plan and emphasized in its first meeting above mentioned. 1. Determining the structures established within the university. It has been determined that there are three structures working in parallels within UJ. These structures are the Students Affairs, International Admission Office and the SRC. These three structures are at some points involved with the prospective international students and eventually with registered international UJ students. It is important to determine what the operations of these three structures as well as their operational parameters are in order to comprehend the processes UJ international students go through. This will be helpful in estimating the level of services UJ currently provides and set measures to improve the processes. 1.1 International Student Admission Office The International Admission Office is the first office where the initial physical interactions with the foreign students take place. This is the area of UJ where important moment of truth is determined. Moment of truth is this critical moment between the customer and the organisation that determine customers satisfaction. Based on the data gathered from Mr Tshepang Marumo, the International Admission Office supervisor, his office is where the requirements for studies are compiled. His office assembles information regarding the application process, visa requirements as well as all procedures to be followed by international students during registration. The International Student Admission Office is in charge of processing international students from prospective students, through the selection process whereby letters concerning study requirements are sent out to students, until the registration process. Afterwards, students are handled by the students affair through its different structures.
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Mr Marumo was kind enough to highlight issues affecting his operations. Amongst the issues, he named uncontrollable factors such mailing of letters specifying study requirements. It is noted that the university is not responsible for letters not being delivered in time because the university does not use an internal service to send the letters out. Another uncontrollable factor noted by Mr Marumo is the lack of access to information on the side of his office and from the various faculties. Mr Marumo also highlighted that there was a need to monitor various processes within is office. 2. First Year International Students Experience Survey Results The FYISE, through Mr Elys from the UJISA, conducted a survey on the first year international students experience of their first month of study (February 2011) to assess students experience of the registration, orientation and integration process during their first month of study at UJ. The survey is a compilation of 17 questions intended to understand what the feeling of International students are regarding the above mentioned processes, and identify areas which require improvement. The survey gathers information on the following: Application process how long the students had to wait to receive the reply from UJ? Justification form UJ regarding declined applications. Registration process how were the students feelings after registration in terms of its efficiency as well as the issues encountered? Students perceptions of UJs efforts to integrate them and its impact on their recommendations of UJ to other prospective students. The accommodation status on/off campus and the accommodation selection process. The service levels at the International Student Admission Office. General feedback. Refer to Annexure 1 for a sample of the questionnaire given to students. It is important to mention that this survey is an initial feedback from International students and a more thorough survey will be conducted at a later stage. The survey was given to a total of 223 international students regardless of their field of studies. 187 or 84% of the sample responded to the survey. It is important to highlight that 70% of the respondents are located on the Bunting road campus. This does affect the results as it does not really represent the views of UJ students on all four campuses. A detailed representation of the respondent on all four campuses is attached to this document (See Annexure 2)

2.1 Results The questionnaire was design in such a way that there were two categories of questions. The first one provided quantitative data and the second category provided qualitative data. 2.1.1 Quantitative data The following resulted from the surveys quantitative data: 2.1.1.1 When was the application form submitted? Most students applied to study at UJ between April and August 2010. The chart below shows the number of application to study at UJ submitted by our respondents.

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Figure 1 Submitted applications for study at UJ

The table below provides a summary of the submitted applications bar chart:
Month April May June July August October November Total Percentage of submitted applications 14% 30% 20% 7% 17% 7% 5% 100%

None of the respondents submitted their application forms during January, February, March, September and December 2010. 2.1.1.2 When did UJ respond to your application request? The university responded between July and December 2010. The chart below shows the response to applications submitted by international students in 2010.
Figure 2 Response to submitted applications for study at UJ

Based on the preceding bar chart, the following was found:


Month July August September November December Total Percentage of Response to submitted applications 8% 14% 25% 28% 25% 100%

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2.1.1.3 Were you accepted to the course you applied for? 68% of the respondents were accepted to the course they applied for as first choice against 32% who were not accepted in their chosen courses. 2.1.1.4 If the answer to question 3 is no, did UJ give you reasonable or significant arguments? Of the 32% who were not accepted into their chosen courses, 32% felt that UJ did provide significant arguments for not accepting them in their first choice course, and 68% felt otherwise. 2.1.1.5 Do you think UJ responded to you timeously? 33% of the respondents agreed that they received the response on their application in time and 67% said that the university response was tardy. 2.1.1.6 How was the registration process? This question was to assess the registration process of International Students. The process is slightly different from the local students registration process as it has steps whereby the students must report to the International Admission Office.
Figure 3 How was the registration process?

The above pie chart shows that 6% of the respondents found that the registration process was fast and easy, 12 % considered it to be acceptable while 82% found it difficult, slow and too long. 2.1.1.7 How was the human interaction with UJ staff during the registration? 6% of the students enjoyed interacting with UJ staff, finding the interaction excellent. 28% of the respondent thought it was good, when 66% judged it to be poor. These percentages are represented in the pie chart below.
Figure 4 How was the human interaction with UJ staff during registration?

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2.1.1.8 From your registration experience, do you think UJ does its best to integrate international students? 27% of the students thought UJ really does its best to integrate international students, while 73% were not convinced that the institution was trying its best to integrate them. 2.1.1.9 Compared to when you were not a UJ student, are you disappointed or happy with your institution in terms of meeting your expectations? So far, 60% of the respondents were happy with UJ. While 40% were disappointed and felt like UJ did not meet their expectations. 2.1.1.10 Would you advise a prospective international student to apply at UJ next year? 69% of the students said yes and 31% would not advise prospective international students to apply at UJ. 2.1.1.11 Do you stay on campus? 83% of the respondents did not stay at any of UJs residence while only 17% stay on campus. 2.1.1.12 Did you apply for campus student residence? 45% applied for residence and the remaining 55% did not apply at all.

2.1.2

Qualitative data

The analysis of these data has been done by establishing a pattern displayed in the data. After analysis of the open-ended questions, the establishment of the relationship between the respondents answers was straightforward. Although, students had differing answers, it emerged from the data collected and analysed that a pattern highlighting problem areas could be established. Below are sampled responses from students on questions providing qualitative data: 2.1.2.1 What issues did you encounter during the registration process? a. Financial officers reported that there were outstanding fees although paid in full. b. Long queues, the process was very slow and too complicated with little or no help during the registration process. c. Al lot of communication problems between the faculty officers and the International office assistants. Even amongst international office workers. d. Slow, understaffed, too much paper works on the international office side. e. No explanation is given on why the fees should be paid in full before registering. f. It is quite a lengthy process. It is too complicated because the steps are not well explained. g. Student assistants at the international office were very slow and unprofessional. They were taking break whenever they felt like h. Slow admin 2.1.2.2 What do you think of the accommodation selection process? a. Very difficult to obtain space. b. Queues are very long. c. The selection process seems to be very centralised which takes time to receive replies. d. Disorganised and unfair in terms of consideration of applications. The selection criteria are not explained clearly and might not even be followed.

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20% of residence place should be allocated to international students, but this is not the case. Reasons for declining applications are not well indicated. f. It stinks I applied early and was turned down without a significant reason. g. Quite complex because the selection criteria are not well explained h. Not effective 2.1.2.3 What are your views regarding the problems international students have to face? a. Paying full fees at the beginning of the year is not fair and the reason why it must be that way should be explained. b. Not effective in terms of communication UJ staff are not able to provide critical information in time e.g. letter of acceptance is received late. c. The registration process should be reviewed so that International students can feel comfortable. The process is too complicated. d. Poor communication channels Information should be provided to International students on time. e. Because we pay our fees in full, it is expected that the university makes us feel welcomed and valued. But the university is failing us. f. Although we are paying our fees upfront, our lives are made difficult by the fact that we are not feeling welcomed in the way we are treated during registration. g. Lack of prompt feedback after applying. h. More respect of the person should be shown by the UJ staff by being friendly. 2.1.2.4 What do you think of the International Office? a. Thats the only place I feel at home. b. Mr Marumo lacks communication skills. He always fights with students instead of helping. c. Sometimes, they are cold and unfriendly d. The office is good but it is small to accommodate students. e. The office is not communicating useful information to us. f. The office is not good at all. The officer doesn't welcome people. He doesn't listen and doesn't try to commiserate with people. g. The registration process is very slow. Not enough qualified people to assist students h. It is horrible and needs to be improved in terms of how they treat people. 3. Conclusion So far the First Year International Student Experience task team has focused its efforts on following the points drafted in the action plan it elaborated. The action plan provided good basis for assessing the experience of first year international students. This assessment should provide the direction of further activities which are required to achieve the task teams goals. As noted in the Draft Action Plan document, the aim of the task team is to make international students feel at home while studying at UJ. This endeavour will not be uncomplicated because there are various stakeholders involved at different levels within different process. While some processes seem indispensable, it is important to highlight that the preliminary tasks have been very helpful in understanding how international students are experiencing UJ and pinpointing specific areas where there is a need for immediate improvement.

e.

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Data provided by Mr Marumo are significant as they underline areas which need observations. According to Mr Marumo, the processes involved from student enrolment to registration need monitoring. The channel of communication between the International Student Admission Office and the faculties is in a dire condition. The students channelized within the registration process are affected by the content of information, which is so often misunderstood by the personnel involved in the process. The information concerning the handling of international students, by various processes, during registration needs to be scrutinised and made easier to understand by everyone who uses it. Data obtained from Mr Marumo can be combined to the ones acquired through the survey. By doing so, a correlation can be established between how the process is designed and maintained and how it impacts on students experience of the institution. It is found that international students have a negative perception of the university from the start of the relationship with the institution. This is due mostly to the fact that human interaction, within the process, is poor. As the results of the survey show, there is an inconsistency between how the students experience the institution and how it affects them. This inconsistency can be established as 66% of the students who took part in the survey felt that human interaction was poor, therefore affecting their considerations of the university, compared to 31% of the students not willing to advise other prospective students to apply for studies at UJ. Although human interaction which is the core area where service orientated organisations should expect gaining customers willingness to do business with, is poor, international students are willing to recommend the institution to other fellow international prospective students. Unfortunately, the survey paints a negative picture of service delivery to international students at UJ. Fortunately, this is proof that there is room for improvement within the process.

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The way forward The task team understands that its mandate is limited to only provide suggestions to improve the process. The implementation of these suggestions rests with the process owners and at no point the task team will put process owners under any type of pressure to implement its suggestions. Based on the results of the survey and the conclusion, the task team recommends the following: 4.1 To undertake a descriptive process of identifying each and every processes international students go through to become registered UJ students 4.1.1 To conduct thorough investigation of the International Student Admission Office in order to layout the processes, and all the stakeholders (including process owners) 4.1.2 To identify within the faculties, the requirements for international students and compare to what the international office has in its records. This will be carried out in order to verify the accuracy of the information exchanged between the diverse structures. 4.1.3 From 4.1, to identify the different structures, other than the International Student Admission Office, which deal with international students and the processes they have to handle the students. It has been determined that there are three different structures dealing with international students SRC, International Student Admission Office and Student Affairs. 4.2 To monitor the processes within the structures previously mentioned and identify areas requiring improvement. 4.3 To suggest ways of improving the processes. In the suggestions, steps of how to carry out the implementation will be described.

4.

Sambil Mukwakungu FYISE Coordinator May 2011

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Annexure 1
FIRST YEAR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS EXPERIENCE QUESTIONNAIRE The purpose of this questionnaire is to obtain a picture of what International students registered at UJ have gone through during the registration process, orientation process as well as the first month of study. This exercise is intended to identify areas which might require improvement. Your input is greatly appreciated. Please answer the following questions: From question 1 7 and 9 14, mark with an X or the option which best describes your answer. 8, 15 17, provide answer with as much details as you can. Question No 1 Question When did you submit your application? When did UJ respond to you? Jan Jul Jan Jul 3 4 5 6 7 Did you get the course you applied for? If the answer to question 3 is no, did UJ give you reasonable or significant arguments? Do you strongly think you were qualified to study your course? Do you think UJ responded to you on time? What do you think of UJ registration process? What issues did you encounter during the registration process?
Fast/easy Careful/ acceptable

Answer Feb Aug Feb Aug Mar Sep Mar Sep Apr Oct Apr Oct May Nov May Nov Yes Yes Yes Yes Jun Dec Jun Dec No No No No

Careless/ Difficult/ Slow/long

Issues?

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10 11 12 13 14 15

How did you find the human Excellent Good interaction with UJ staff during registration? Do you think UJ does its best to integrate international students? Comparing to when you were not a UJ student, are you disappointed or happy with your university? Happy

Poor

Yes

No

Disappointed Yes On Yes No Off No

Would you advise an external international student to apply for UJ? Do you stay on or off campus? Did you apply for accommodation on campus? What do you think of the accommodation selection process?

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What are your views regarding the problems international students have to face?

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What do you think of the International Office?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the question of this survey. Your anonymity will be preserved and you input is very significant to our research.

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Annexure 2 Representation of Respondents to the Questionnaire The questionnaire was sent out to 223 students. Total number of student who responded to the survey: 187 Campus Number Students Percentage Auckland Park Kingsway Campus 131 70% Auckland Park Bunting Road 31 17% Doornfontein Campus 25 13% Soweto Campus 0 0% Total 187 100%

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