In order to get economic opportunities, many children from developing countries move to abroad for pursuing their higher education. Some of the most popular colleges for higher education exist in the countries like United States, Germany, UK, Europe and Australia. Most of the students that migrate to these countries for obtaining education belong to developing countries including Bangladesh, Ghana, Pakistan, India and Nigeria. It is important to note here that the native language of all these students is very different from English (Ping et al., 2019). Therefore, when they move to abroad in order to get education, they face a lot of difficulties and challenges.
When the international students migrate to foreign universities, one of the biggest challenges for them to survive in the industry is the entirely different culture of the nation. The international students have to survive around the people with entirely different language, speaking practices and food habits. It can become very difficult for the student to integrate into an entirely different culture. This experience in termed as Cultural shock in the literature. Cultural Shock is one of the difficulties that are faced by the international students at foreign universities (Su & Harrison, 2016). Also, these students are not very comfortable with the English language therefore face the difficulty of language barrier when moved to foreign universities. Internal students tend to lose their confidence of expressing their views as they are not fluent in English like the native students of the university. Therefore, these students tend to lose their confidence in a very short duration. It becomes very important to guide these students that language barrier should not demotivate them to discuss their problems and issues openly with other people. Sometimes, the existing language barrier in these students can also impact their understanding capability of the content taught in the classrooms.
The above discussion points out that it becomes important for the foreign universities to find out the primary and secondary issues dealt by the international students studying in their universities (Wekullo, 2019). It becomes important to research and find out and further draft strategies to solve or address the issues faced by the international students.
Excelsia College is one of the popular colleges for doing higher studies in Australia. In order to provide healthy learning environment to the international students, it becomes important for the top management of the Excelsia College to find out the learning experience of the international students in their university and work towards their well being in order to maintain the attractiveness of the university for the international students.
1.2 Research Problem
The international students deal with a lot of difficulties and challenges when migrated to foreign universities. These difficulties and challenges can actually lead to decrease in confidence level, reduction in academic grades and also depression among the students. In order to ensure the well being of the international students and to maintain the attractiveness of the foreign universities, it becomes important for the Excelsia College to evaluate and determine the satisfaction level of the international students in the university. The findings can be used to further student satisfaction strategy.
1.3 Research Questions
According to the study conducted by Alsahafi & Shin (2019), the cross border mobility of students has increased over the last few years. These students increase the diversity of the classrooms at the foreign universities. It is said that the increase in the diversity adds on to the perspectives and the knowledge spectrum of a classroom and thus enhances both the learning along with the teaching experience. The flows of the international students to the abroad not only contributes to the diversity of the foreign universities but are a great financial contribution to the economies of these foreign universities. Therefore, it becomes very important for both the international economy and the university to embrace these international students and aim at improving their learning experience at the universities. The literature also points out to the fact that the satisfaction rate of the students is positively associated to the population of international students in the university (Jackson, 2017). That is, the increase in the satisfaction rate increases the proportion of the international students in the university. The foreign universities need to maintain a healthy learning environment for the students in order to ensure their academic prestige in the economy.
The study conducted by Mesidor & Sly (2016), postulated that it is very beneficial for the foreign universities to value the international students because the students that have migrated to the international universities are the ones that have actually obtained high ranks in the universities located in their homes countries. Therefore, these students hold the potential to contribute towards the academic excellence of international universities. International students also bring together their own cultural and ethnic experiences to the foreign universities and increase the diversity of the college campuses.
It becomes important for the teaching staff and the native students of the foreign universities to help and support the international students through their learning journey. The teaching staff of the foreign universities can help the students in developing culture sensitiveness and to integrate in the environment of completely different culture. If given proper training and support, the international students hold the capability of developing intercultural relationships at the colleges and learn a lot about other cultures along with pursuing their higher education at the foreign universities (Güven & Bahar-Güner, 2016). According to the study, these international students also give an opportunity to the native students to learn about different cultures, compare and contrast with their learning experience and further expand their own spectrum of knowledge. Therefore, the presence of international students increases the learning opportunities for both the international and native students at the university.
Along with the contribution towards academic excellence and diversity of the foreign universities, the education and the living expense incurred by the international students also contribute towards the growth of the developed countries. However, the study conducted by Gartman (2016), points out to the fact that international students face a lot of difficulties and challenges while studying in the foreign universities. The students are immediately expected to adapt to new learning styles and integrate with the people that belong to different cultural environment. While trying to integrate in the new environment, the students have to adjust with new food, cultural practices, and language barriers along with other personal barriers. The study also points to the fact that the international students cannot escape from this experience and need to adapt to the new surroundings (God & Zhang, 2019). Certain coping skills are to be developed in the international students so they are able to effectively deal with the differences and adjust to the changes in the learning environment. However, there are chances that it can be very challenging for a student to adapt to the social and cultural expectations of a new country (Yu & Wright, 2016). This challenging journey can have a significant impact on the overall emotional wellbeing and mental health of the student.
The study conducted by Baklashova & Kazakov (2016), postulated that the challenges faced by the international students are not limited to cultural shock and language barriers. In the cultural transition, the students deal with loneliness and isolation as they are not able to make friends due to differences in the habits and the cultural perceptions. Another study conducted by Calder et al., (2016), also states that a high proportion of international students seek counseling services in order to deal with psychological concerns and other mental problems that students deal with while dealing with challenging environment at the university. The finding of the study imply that it becomes important for the university to arrange counselors who can give professional advice to the students to deal with the cultural differences, learning and teaching pattern at the university (Macionis et al., 2019). The finding of the study also depict that this professional advice proved to be effective in helping the students adapt to the new life in the foreign universities.
The academic setting and standards are another challenge that has to be dealt by the international students. The academic standards in which the assignments are to be written in the foreign universities are much more stringent than the home universities (Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer, 2019). The international students who do not have English as their first language find it very difficult to write assignments according to the academic standards of the foreign universities.
According to the survey findings in the study conducted by Bista & Gaulee (2019), most prominently the students deal with the challenge of English proficiency. The replies of the staff members depicted that they do not any empathy for the students that deal with the barrier of English proficiency.
The findings of the above literature review indicate that the international students deal with major issues that need to be handled effectively in order to ensure the well being of the students.
3.1 Qualitative Research Design
In order to conduct in depth research on the challenges and difficulties dealt by the international students in Excelsia College located in Australian economy, qualitative research study will be conducted. The qualitative data will be utilized in order to identify the existing challenges faced by the students and also to identify the possible solutions those problems that can be incorporated in order to draft the Student Satisfaction Strategy for the university.
3.2 Sample size
In order to understand the learning experience at Excelsia College, a sample of 4 international students will be chosen. In order to ensure that only international students are chosen for conducting the analysis, quota sampling method will be adopted. The entire population of Excelsia College will be divided into two sub groups, one of native students and other sub group of international students. After dividing the population into two sub groups, 4 students will be randomly chosen from the sub group of international students.
3.3 Data Collection Tool
In order to collect relevant data from the sample collected, the data collection tool of questionnaire was adopted. Semi structured questions were presented in the questionnaire and were asked from all the participants. The questions were drafted with an aim to identify the challenges faced by the international students. The transcripts with each participant replies were recorded so that useful insights can be drawn from the qualitative data collected.|
3.4 Data Analysis
In order to draw useful insights from the data collected, it becomes important for the researcher to adopt adequate data analysis technique. In the present study, the technique of thematic analysis will be adopted in order to analyze the responses of the questionnaire received from the four participants.
In the data analysis technique of thematic analysis, themes will be formed based upon the data collected in order to find detailed answers to the research questions asked in the present study.
4.1 Theme 1: Challenges Faced by International Students
According to the response received from the student 1, the language barrier is the biggest challenge that they deal with while being in a foreign university. They do not hold proficiency in English language and thus they hesitate to ask their queries from the teachers while being a part of the academic lectures. The student also states that they expect a little more recognition from the staff members towards them. However they do not get that which further demotivates them to speak up in the classroom.
According to the response of the student 2, isolation and loneliness is a prominent challenge faced by the international students in Excelsia College. Due to differences in the speaking, eating and other habits, the international students find it very difficult to fit in the social life of the college. Some students are able to discover ways to make friends while others are unable to. The student also continued by saying that he has seen many students dealing with depression and other mental problems due to facing isolation at college.
According to the response of the student 3, differences in the perceptions, ethics and cultural values is the biggest challenge by him while he joined the university. He stated that every student that joins the university gets hit by cultural shock as they are not at all aware about the belief system and perceptions carried by most of the students in the university. This cultural barrier also creates a communication barrier between the students. However, the student also states that eventually the international students get used to it and adapt to the perceptions and cultural norms carried by the native students of the university.
According to the response of the student 4, the biggest challenge faced at the university is that the native students are not ready to share any interpersonal relationship and share cultural experiences. The cultural beliefs carried by the native students becoming the dominant culture and the international students have to adopt those values in order to integrate into the surroundings. The students that fail to do so have to either deal with loneliness or bullying of the native students.
4.2 Theme 2: Solutions for challenges
According to the response of student 1 and student 3, the empathetic support of the teaching staff at the university can help the students in dealing with the language barrier along with dealing with differences in the cultural differences. The teaching staff can also make arrangements to provide professional advice or counseling sessions to the international students for helping them to accommodate with the new surroundings.
According to the response of student 2 and student 4, it becomes important for the top management of the university to guide the native students to support the international students. Penalties and stringent actions should be taken if any student is found bullying the international student. Both of the students believed that it becomes important for the top management to intervene and draft policies in order to effectively address the difficulties faced by the international students.
On the basis of the above findings of questionnaire it can be find out that language barrier, limited support of teaching staff, difficulty in making friends, loneliness and isolation, cultural differences and dominant native culture are the prominent challenges dealt by the international students at Excelsia College.
While keeping in mind the above findings, it can be recommended that the top management should give training to staff members for giving professional advice and support to the international students for finding space for themselves in new environment. The staff members should also be encouraged to provide greater attention and recognition towards the international students keeping in mind the language barrier faced by them. The Student Satisfaction Strategy should also guide the native students at the university to provide friendly and supportive environment to the international students.
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