An Overview of International Students and Discrimination in Higher Education

An Overview of International Students and Discrimination in Higher Education

Kamil Demirhan (Zonguldak Bülent Ecevit University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9108-5.ch018
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This chapter focuses on the international students' exposure to unequal treatment in higher education institutions. The study aims at explaining how international students are perceived by hosting institutions and societies. The first part gives information about the international students. It explains the approaches of higher education institutions to international students in terms of their contribution to the internationalization of institutions, international students' contribution as a financial sector and as a market, and international students' contribution to increase diversity and interaction. The second part includes the experiences of international students as the subjects of discrimination. The experiences may help to identify the suspects of unequal treatment and to understand which characteristics that students have targeted by hosting society. The third part identifies the reasons of unequal treatment and negative perception about international students. This study tries to schematize types, reasons, and results of unequal treatment towards international students.
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The purpose of this study is to figure out the discrimination towards international students in respects of its sources, types, reasons and the results in higher education institutions. It collects information about the experiences of international students by means of literature on international students. All around the world, almost 5 million international students are enrolled to higher education institutions. Institutions compete with each other to recruit more international students. International students contribute to the institutions’ budgets, the internationalization process of institutions, and diversity in higher education. Students’ positive feelings, their satisfaction and good experiences are important factors for providing the maintenance of enrollment.

Discrimination has a negative impact on the rates of enrollment in higher education institutions. However, the level of enrollment is not the most important problem. Struggle against discrimination in higher education institutions is important in relation to the principle of respect for human dignity. Discrimination has psychological, social and physical negative results on students. It prevents the exchange of ideas, intellectual perspectives, information, knowledge, and skills. In terms of discrimination towards the international students in higher education, this study tries to answer to the following questions:

  • “Why are international students important for countries?”

  • “Why is the discrimination important for international students?”

  • “What are the approaches explaining discrimination?”

  • “What is the types of discrimination?

  • “Where and how is the discrimination performed?

  • “Who are the suspects and the victims of discrimination?”

  • “Why do host students treat unequally to international students?”

  • “What are the results of discrimination?”

The answers of these questions may help us to understand the sources, types, reasons and the results of discrimination, and may provide solutions about this problem.


Information About International Students And Expectations

The first part of this study gives information about international students, then it tries to explain the question of “Why international students are important for countries?” There are common definitions of international students. For example, OECD (2017, p. 70) defines international students as “students who left their country of origin and moved to another country for the purpose of study”. UNESCO (2015) defines international students as students who are in a foreign country for educational purposes and enrolled for a tertiary degree (or higher). The difference of international students (refers to non-residents) from foreign students (refers to non-citizens) and “credit-mobile students” (e.g. Erasmus students) is emphasized in the definitions of international students (Migration Data Portal, 2018). Most of the international students are departed from China, India and Central Asian countries, and the main destination countries are United States, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany and Russia. Recently, the number of international students is increasing in Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and New Zealand (Migration Data Portal, 2018).

Expectations from international students can be summarized under the three topics in relation to their contribution to higher education institutions: i. internationalization and diplomacy, ii. financial source and new market, iii. diversity and interaction in education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diversity: Diversity is a plurality in a society with different cultures, ideologies, perspectives, and identities.

International Students: Students studying in a foreign country and enrolled for a tertiary degree.

Discrimination: Discrimination is treating people unequally because of their ethnic background, religion, economic and social status, racial, or sexual characteristics. It includes humiliation, exclusion, and hostile attitudes.

Xenophobia: Having negative feelings about people from different ethnicities, cultures, and countries and behaving hostilely to them.

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