FAQs for international PhDs/academics/family members

The FAQ section/page with well-structured quality content organized by relevant topics/categories and easy to navigate is a useful way to organize valuable information that incoming academics often ask. The FAQ page offers a lot of benefits, including:

  • Provide quick/standardized responses to recurring questions helping thus incoming academics efficiently navigate through administrative duties and other topics of their interest.

  • Reduce the time the HE institution's support staff members need to answer often simple questions.

  • Reduce a lot of stress of incoming academics since they receive clear information to make the right decision and move.

  • Improve your incoming academics' experience.

  • Increase the institution's online visibility on Google and other search engines.

  • The FAQ section usually draws most of the traffic.

  • Could help in set-up of future chatbots


Improved access to information

Basic information
Categories Social Integration & Daily Life Family Matters Administrative & Legal Support Accommodation Safety, Healthcare & Wellbeing Social security, Health Insurance, Taxation Visa, Residence & Work Permit Language Support, Language Policy
Mobility stages Pre-arrival phase During mobility phase Upon arrival Pre-departure
Delivery schedule Not defined
Importance Essential to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher R2 - R4 researchers Lecturers (incl. Language Teachers) Internationals spouses/family members
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Permanent employee Visiting scholar Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs) Fixed term employee Exchange student
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience 10-15 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 0-3 months 3-6 months 6-12 months More than 12 months
Practice setup

When setting up this practice consider the following steps:

Phase 1

  • Assign a working group/team to be involved in creation of the FAQ page. Clearly define the task management and efficient workflow. The main responsibility could be borne by IRO staff. 

  • Use service data to identify the most common questions asked by incoming researchers, PhD. students and other academics. Put yourself in the incomers' shoes to figure out what other questions or problems they might have or experience (internal online communication platform for support staff members can serve as a relevant resource as well).

  • Define how you will organize your FAQ page. Divide up questions into overarching topics. The FAQ page should reflect also the needs of incoming academics (prearrival duties, upon arrival duties, accommodation, bringing family, etc).

  • Response/solution published should be valid, accurate and consise.

Phase 2

  • Define the location of the FAQ section/page on your website. The FAQ section should be the highlight of your institution's website.

  • Ensure your FAQ page is conveniently searchable and includes plenty of keywords that will make it easily accessible to internationals searching your website.

  • Think of/determine the internal linking strategy that would spread benefits to other areas of the institution's website.Coss-linking however needs to be updated, too.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Actors involved in practice setup
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • Doctoral school
Partners involved in practice setup
  • Language centre
  • Embassy
  • Real estate agent
  • Immigration office
  • Tax office
  • Medical centre
  • IOM migration information centre
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Eures office
  • Job platform
  • Tourist information centre/board
  • Employer (with high demand of international staff)
  • Employers association
  • Local healthcare professionals
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice setup
  • Database structure designed
  • Database filled-in with data
  • Internal Wikipedia-style resource built up

@ all: various partners and their websites can help in providing exact content and correct answers on the webpage, they can serve also as a reference point for signposting.

Practice delivery

  • Publish your FAQ page on your site.

  • Provide valid, clear and accurate responses/solution suggestions

  • Be concise enough to offer information that is necessary but is not too wordy.

  • Format your content to be easy to scan. You can use bullet points and short paragraphs to help incomers read the content.

  • Ensure double-checking of the validity of your information.

  • Monitor the FAQ page's performance.

  • Update content regularly and add more solutions over time (once a year at least0

  • In case of questions extending beyond the range of FAQ, provide options to directly connect to the support team members dealing with international academics for further consultation

  • Encourage the incoming academics to engage with you or provide feedback on your FAQ section

  • Respond supportively to the feedback received

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • IRO/welcome centre
  • Language department
  • Study department
  • Research office
  • IT support department
  • PR department
  • Dormitory/accommodation facility
  • Communications and Marketing
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Number of page visitors

@ all: various partners and their websites can help in providing exact content and correct answers on the webpage, they can serve also as a reference point for signposting.

Examples of practice

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)

The International Centre at Kiel University, Welcome Center for international researchers and scholars has published FAQ for incoming internationals divided into thematic areas such as Accommodation in Kiel, Arrival in Kiel, Bank accounts, Family, German courses, Insurance, Living in Kiel, Mobility in and around Kiel, Visa and Residence Permits achieving very clear navigation through the topics. For family matters links in FAQ lead to a dedicated FAmily section where detailed information on various topics relevant to family members can be found. 


FAQ for PhD students

University of Tubingen incorporated FAQ for international PhD students and FAQ for students covering questions for PhD students coming to the university within student exchange programme as well as PhD students coming without exchange programme as full degree students.