International Students in Higher Education Classrooms: Diversity, Challenges, and Promising Practices for Educational Institutions

International Students in Higher Education Classrooms: Diversity, Challenges, and Promising Practices for Educational Institutions

Hau Trung Ho (Thu Dau Mot University, Vietnam), Minh Ngoc Tran (Thu Dau Mot University, Vietnam), Stephanie Doyle (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Johnson Kukatlapalli (Johnson Overseas Study Hub, India), and Ha Thuong Vu (Kiwi English Centre, Vietnam)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7404-1.ch006
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This chapter draws on the literature and on the authors' own research to present insights into the experiences and perspectives of international students transitioning into Anglophone higher education classrooms. The projects focused on Vietnamese, Indian, and African students' experiences in New Zealand. Using various research approaches—mixed methods, interpretative phenomenology, and narrative—these studies captured multiple aspects of student experiences. These students came from diverse cultural backgrounds and had a variety of motivations for studying abroad. They encountered multiple challenges related to unfamiliar academic conventions and different teaching and learning approaches. In the chapter, common challenges and features of the student experiences are organized under the themes of diversity (backgrounds, motivations, and linguistic), academic challenges (writing, reading, and plagiarism), relationships, agency, and support services. The chapter concludes with recommendations for institutions and faculty to accommodate student needs in ways that respect their diversity.
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Globally, in the 21st century, societies and educational institutions have become more multi-cultural as economies and labour markets are increasingly internationally connected. International students have contributed to the diversification and internationalization of higher education campuses and classrooms. In this chapter, an international student is someone who has left their home country to study in another country (the host country). In their future lives, international students and those they studied with have the potential to grow relationships and understanding across nations and cultures.

In 2019, over 5.3 million international students left their home countries to study abroad. That year, the United States of America (USA) was the top destination country for international students hosting over 1,095,299 international students (IIE, 2019). Top host countries for international students tend to be top sending countries with, for example, the USA sending 341,751 students overseas and China, the top sending country, hosting 492,185 international students in 2019 (IIE, 2019). The 2020 global pandemic disrupted mobility flows and economies and was predicted to impact on higher education for the next decade. Campus closures have resulted in the growing use of digital and online technologies for teaching and learning which have variously been embraced or resisted by teachers and learners. Anecdotally, students who may have previously studied abroad cannot see a value in being enrolled in an overseas university and studying online.

The current juncture provides a unique opportunity for countries, institutions, and educators interested in fostering international relationships and intercultural engagement to reflect on and use the lessons from research on international students to shape the transformation of education. What can be learnt from the experiences and perceptions of global scholars who chose to study in other countries? What makes a difference to student experience? To intercultural engagement? In this chapter, we argue international student experiences are diverse and may differ from those of local students. There is a critical need for education providers and those working with students to understand the complexity of these students’ experiences in order to appropriately address their academic and social needs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Plagiarism: Is presenting someone else’s words or ideas as one’s own without proper attribution either intentionally or unintentionally.

Agency: Is human capability to act on their behalf and to make choices.

Academic Shock: Relates to issues caused by unfamiliar teaching and learning approaches when students study in another country.

Culture Shock: Involves positive and negative feelings provoked when students live in a country with different social values and norms.

Language Shock: Is language-related difficulties facing international students and relates to everyday spoken language and academic language.

Acculturation: Refers to psychological and cultural changes resulting from contact between two or more individuals from different backgrounds.

Academic Integrity: Refers to being honest, responsible and committed to one’s academic work in academic setting.

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