How the Chippendale School supports international students      

The clue is in our name – at the Chippendale International School of Furniture, we welcome students from around the world to our magical corner of East Lothian.  

Every year, around half of our Professional Course students come from overseas, so we understand the unique challenges they face, from finding suitable accommodation to battling homesickness. We try to make the transition easy from the off, even offering a special travel bursary to help with the costs of relocating to Scotland.  

We sat down with school principal Tom Fraser to shed light on how we support international students when they come to study at our furniture making school.  

What would you say to a prospective student coming from overseas, who might be nervous at the thought of uprooting to Scotland for nine months?

On meeting a prospective student, the first thing to make clear is that all individuals will be supported in all areas of school life. From the moment you embark on the application process to settling in after your arrival, all the way through to graduation and the beginning of your woodworking career, we have you covered.  

Our warm and welcoming team of expert tutors and student support staff are dedicated to making your time here as rewarding as possible. We also pride ourselves on our ability to provide a true ‘home away from home’ for our students.  

For more information on how we support our international students, visit our FAQs page 

What kind of activities do students get up to outside workshop hours? 

Students at our school have a host of fantastic activities right on their doorstep. Ideally situated on the breathtaking East Lothian coastline, our location provides convenient access to the vibrant seaside town of North Berwick. With its charming shops, hip coffee spots, seaside fishing huts, and stunning golden beaches, it’s a great spot to visit at the weekend. 

Golfing enthusiasts can enjoy playing on some of the world’s best links golf courses, while nature lovers can explore the nearby Lammermuir hills (which the school has an incredible view of). In nearby Edinburgh, just over a half-hour drive away, students can visit attractions like Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, Dean Village, and also experience the city’s thriving bar and restaurant scene. 

How do you endeavour to create that ‘home away from home’ environment for students? 

Our Head of Student Support, Marion Morris, plays a vital role in creating a ‘home away from home’ environment. Marion’s role goes beyond academic matters as she provides invaluable assistance to students, helping them register with the local GP and dentist, and offering helpful advice on what to do and where to go. If anything else pops up, Marion is also available for one-on-one support in the library one afternoon per week.  

On the social side of things, we love organising school get-togethers, whether it be for the annual Christmas lunch, Burns Night celebrations or a casual summer BBQ on the front lawn. We feel it’s very important for our students to get to know each other outside of the workshop and students often forge life-long friendships here.

Do students get the chance to return home for a visit during the course? 

Yes, the Professional Course is divided into three terms, each with a three-week break in between. This schedule allows international students more than enough time to return home and visit family and friends. 

What are some of the benefits of having such a rich variety of nationalities in the workshop? 

There are so many benefits that come from welcoming students from across the globe. The diverse range of nationalities in the workshop creates a melting pot of ideas and thoughts which influences our students’ furniture designs. It’s amazing to see how designs evolve over time, often influenced by where they originate from or a country they have travelled to – having so many cultures in one workshop means the design possibilities are endless. 

Have international students had any influence on life at the School? 

We take immense pride in embracing cultural diversity, especially during the holidays! We always celebrate Thanksgiving, hosted by our American students, while this summer our Chilean student, Daphne, is planning to treat us to a traditional ‘Asado’ BBQ.  


Year after year, we have international students emailing and even travelling back to Scotland to visit the school, which goes to show how rewarding and special their time was here.  

They particularly love hearing about the school’s progress and seeing what’s being crafted in the workshop by current Professional Course students. When you come to study at the Chippendale School, you are making a connection for life – and we love hearing what our students have achieved following their graduation!  

If you are looking to join a furniture making course in Scotland, look no further than our Professional Course. We teach a full spectrum of woodworking and business skills so you can start your career in furniture making – find out more about applying here. 

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