Homestay accommodation is fast becoming a first option for many overseas students who want to come and study here in the UK, especially Birmingham. Living with a host allows students to adapt to their new environment in a safe, comfortable and affordable manner. It allows peace of mind to the parents of younger students who may be living away from home for the first time.
For older students preparing for entrance to University for both under-graduate and post-graduate courses, the homestay may be the first impression they have of the UK and hosts help to put them at ease as they adapt to their new surroundings.
What you may not realise, though, is that becoming a host to international students can bring many benefits to the individuals, couples and families that host them too. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy when you open your door to an international student.
If you want to expand your family’s horizons, hosting an international student is a great thing to do. Most students often want to learn as much as they can about British culture during their stay, and they’re often keen to discuss aspects of their own countries and cultures with their hosts. This can help you and/or your children see the world in a new way while coming to accept and respect other people and cultures of the world.
Organisations like Warm Welcome Homestays place international students with hosts and guarantee payment. And, yes, a portion of the money will go towards feeding the student, but families and individuals that play host can earn extra income for their households. In the UK you can earn up to £7500 from hosting each year before you need to tell the tax man.
Rather than having a long-term tenant in the house who you may or may not get on with, you can choose to host students for as little as one week or as much as 44 weeks. If you don’t hit it off with your guest, you’ll not be lumbered with them because reputable organisations like Warm Welcome will relocate students at a week’s notice if there is serious dissatisfaction.
As a host, you’re not risking students having security of tenure (becoming ‘sitting tenants’) as long as food is supplied. This includes providing breakfast only, or half board (breakfast and evening meal, by far the most popular option for most international students). If you do not provide meals (self-catering accommodation) or are letting a bedsit, studio or furnished flat, this may be classified as a ‘holiday let’ so long as the student does not stay more than 8 months. This also means that security of tenure should not apply.
As a host for international students, you can feel proud of the role you play in helping teens or young adults reach their full potential. Many of the students that come to Birmingham are on intensive English language courses to help them prepare for academic life at University in the UK. The home from home environment in which they stay provides an enriching experience which ultimately helps them to achieve their academic goals.
At some point in our lives we may feel that we're losing our purpose. Maybe the kids have moved out or you’ve retired from a busy career. By hosting an international student, you can feel like you’ve been given a new lease of life, as well as give your spare room a purpose too. Your student will invariably be independent but may need your advice from time to time. By helping them to settle in to their new life, you should feel a great sense of achievement.
The more students you host, the more friends you’ll have from all over the world. This means that your guests may wish to return the favour and invite you into their family home. Many of our hosts stay in contact with their guests for years to come, creating opportunities to travel the globe and experience new cultures.
There is no better way to learn a new language than to practice with a native speaker. However, communication goes far deeper than just language. By hosting, you learn how to communicate and build relationships with those who are different from yourself. By learning to relate to those who may have had an upbringing that’s very different from your own, your ability to connect, communicate, and relate to others is enhanced significantly.
Hosting isn’t for everyone but for those that embrace the idea of cultural exchange the benefits are real. Not only do you receive an extra revenue stream, you can also make friends for life.
Founder and Managing Director of Warm Welcome Homestays - Birmingham born and bred, English Language Teacher and long track-record of working with students, homestay hosts and language schools in the UK and overseas, including living and working in Asia for a number of years.