Boarding school terminologySeptember 26, 2023
Host international students for short staysNovember 22, 2023
How providing a home from home for international students brings rich rewards
Opening your home to an international student studying in the UK can be a rewarding experience for your whole family. If you have a suitable spare bedroom and are happy to welcome one of our carefully-selected foreign students into your family, you open the doors to a cultural exchange that can bring joy and insight to everyone involved, as well as financial rewards.
In this blog, we will look at the benefits of becoming a long stay host family – at Oxford Guardians we call this a ‘long stay host family.
Why do international students need a long stay host family?
International students studying in the UK may not have friends or family with whom they can stay whilst they follow their British education. This is where kind host families step in, welcoming international students into their homes and treating them as one of the family.
Long stay hosts offer a home from home during term time for foreign students attending independent or international day schools in the UK. At Oxford Guardians we arrange long stay homestays for students from the ages of 8 to 20, though most of our long- term homestay students are between 16 and 18.
Students attending boarding schools will only need short stay homestays (for example, during holidays and exeats). Read more about short stay hosting here.
Does this mean the host family is an education guardian?
No, a host family is not automatically the formal guardian to international students living with them (though you can ask to be considered for this role too). Oxford Guardians has a dedicated team of local guardians who are there to support the student, get to know them and follow their academic progress through meetings with the student and their teachers. But we need the help of caring, kind and welcoming host families to offer a safe and secure environment where the young people under our education guardianship can stay when not at school or college.
We appoint local guardians for each international student as extra support for them, and to make sure that their family abroad is kept up to date with their school progress and general wellbeing. You will be introduced to our local education guardian, who will visit each student regularly, either at home or at school. The team at Oxford Guardians and your student’s local guardian are available to help both the student and your family with any issues that arise.
What type of families provide long term homestays?
Homestay families can be couples with their own children, couples whose children have grown up and flown the nest, or people who simply want to open their home to an international student studying in the UK. All are genuinely interested in offering a home from home to a foreign student and welcoming them as part of the family. Oxford Guardians takes great care in selecting and then supporting our host families. We make sure the family has the right amount of information about the student’s background and needs, and we provide round-the-clock access to support, if needed.
Long stay hosting offers your family a rewarding experience
Long stay host families are privileged to share the day-to-day life of an international student in the UK. They offer a safe and reliable home base for the student(s) and often build strong relationships with them.
Hosting an international student as one of the family across the three terms of the British academic year means you become a key part of their development.
As a long stay host family, you will be more involved than short stay hosts in the emotional wellbeing and academic progress of your student, giving ‘parental guidance’ when it comes to homework, making life decisions and dealing with day-to-day emotions.
It can be very rewarding for host families to share the triumphs and challenges of their students, and we would encourage you to attend sporting, Christmas or other school events which your international student’s family would normally attend, as this is a special and important time in the student’s life. In many cases this relationship with your student becomes a cherished experience for the whole family.
Hosting can be inspiring for your own children
We encourage you to treat your international student as part of the family, which means that they often develop good relationships with your children. Our host families find that the students provide friendship and company for their own children, particularly only children or those whose older siblings have left home. An international student may also give your children the opportunity to practise a foreign language, or develop their own social and hosting skills.
Embracing cultural exchange for the whole family
In our multicultural world it is becoming increasingly important for people of all ages to understand and embrace cultural differences. Oxford Guardians’ international students come from all over the world, including countries such as [Brazil, Iran, China, Russia and South Africa]. By welcoming a student from another country or culture into your home, you open your family’s eyes to diverse religions, rights and customs, fostering mutual respect and appreciation. At the same time, you are helping your student guest to understand your own culture and give them the opportunity to learn about British life – a real gift that will help them and even their family shape their world view.
Earning income as a host family
As a long stay host family you can claim agreed expenses, and will be paid a fee for hosting each student. Under current UK taxation the Rent a Room Scheme lets you earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year tax-free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home. Please contact us if you are interested in finding out how much you can earn as a homestay family.
How do you select suitable host families?
We want international families to know that their children are safe and well supported when they study in the UK. Oxford Guardians’ host families are therefore subject to checks and screening to comply with our own high standards of care, and to ensure we maintain our Gold Standard accreditation with AEGIS (The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students).
Our application process includes a home visit to ensure that you can offer suitable accommodation and make a risk assessment; an interview and DBS checks. If you feel you can offer a student a welcoming homestay and we are happy with the outcome of your application, you will be included in our list of available long term host families in your area.
We offer a wide range of training, support and guidance to our host families, so you need never feel you are on your own. Our extensive Homestay Family Handbook includes sections on everything from how to deal with homesickness to suggested bedtimes, and you will have dedicated support from Oxford Guardians’ team, including emergency contact numbers.
We try to match students with suitable families, so that they are not only sufficiently local to the student’s day school but also comfortable, for example, with your pets.
Join our homestay family community
We are always looking for special families who understand the pleasures of sharing their home with an international student studying in the UK. If you would like to be considered as a long-term homestay for independent or international day school students in your area, please get in touch for more information.
For more information on becoming a host family and joining our team please contact us on email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01604 859 331.