Coaching in international education: from advising to empowering

Blog for members
07 November 2023
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If you work in international education, then you know how important it is to ask good questions. If you don’t ask good questions, you don’t get the right information or enough information to be able to advise students, support your colleagues or manage your team. But what exactly is a good question? 

What kind of questions can elicit the details you need to advise students appropriately and signpost them to the right support or inform them about how they fit within the institutional rules and regulations? What kind of questions do you need to ask your manager when you need support? And if you manage others, what kind of questions do you need to ask to best support them? 

A key coaching skill is asking skillful, pertinent, probing, well-timed questions. And we’ll cover this on the introduction to coaching training course. 

You may know me as the previous Director of Member Services and Policy at UKCISA. While working at UKCISA, I trained as a coach and have been coaching for seven years. I’m extremely interested in group dynamics, and I bring this experience into my coaching work.  

Enhancing your career 

In UKCISA’s next training course, we’ll cover the basics of coaching techniques which you can apply to your day-to-day work with students, colleagues and staff you manage.  

How can coaching skills help your career? Well, by exploring the difference between advising and coaching, your ability to support students will be greatly enhanced. Students need advice, guidance and information, but they also need to draw on their own internal and external resources. The same goes for your colleagues or staff you manage.  

We’ll also explore the importance of listening effectively and how this relates to coaching. You probably have good listening skills already, but there is real value in examining how you are doing it, reviewing your bad habits (and your good ones!) and exploring ways to deepen your practice. This training course will give you the opportunity to do this and receive feedback from your peers.  

Setting goals 

Goals are important. I always establish an overarching goal in the initial contract of three, six or 12-month coaching packages that I offer. I start every one-to-one session by establishing the goal for the time we have together. Sometimes it’s the most difficult part of the session because it requires clients to be focused, specific and succinct. This is a hugely transferable skill and also key to effective communication.  

You must set a goal to know what you are trying to achieve. And you need to know what the goal is to measure if you have achieved it. There is a skill in setting goals that motivate you.  

UKCISA training courses always have very clear goals. The introduction to coaching training course will help you to: 

  • Recognise what coaching is and how, when and why to use it. 
  • Listen more effectively. 
  • Apply powerful questions which support development. 
  • Set goals for yourself and others. 

I’m certain that this training course will complement and enhance the many skills that UKCISA members already have. I wish I had known more about coaching when I was an international student adviser and that’s why I designed this course just for UKCISA.  

I’m looking forward to seeing both new and experienced advisers and managers who are curious about coaching and who would like to enhance how they advise students, work with colleagues, and/or manage staff.  

Book your place at Julie Allen’s introduction to coaching on 22 November (9.30am-1.30pm). 


Julie Allen is an International Coaching Federation accredited coach and specialises in workplace coaching. She has worked with staff in higher education, banking, law, NHS, third sector charities, local government and more. She is a visiting lecturer on the consulting and leading in organisations master’s programme at the Tavistock Clinic in London.  

Julie offers one-to-one sessions and packages for professionals who want to find solutions to workplace challenges so that their career can thrive. Read her profile on the Coaching Directory.