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Internationalisation and the Integration of International Students at the University of Twente

Kücking, S. (2011) Internationalisation and the Integration of International Students at the University of Twente.

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Abstract:In the modern academic world of today, student mobility is increasing constantly. The effects of globalisation are especially observable in the academic environment. Since more and more borders open and students are enabled to travel freely, the number of international students is rising at universities all over the world. Students from abroad are a significant proportion of today’s student body. The need of internationalisation of higher education has been recognised and is expected to play an even more important role in the future. Although internationalisation offers numerous benefits to all parties involved, universities all over the world that welcome international students are experiencing challenges with promoting internationalisation and integrate international students adequately. Universities are often confronted with a gap between local and international students. In order to fill this gap and create one student body, universities worldwide are engaged in finding ways how to improve the relationship between international and host students. The present study has been conducted at the University of Twente (UT) in the Netherlands. In order to investigate in reasons and possible solutions for the gap between international and Dutch students, 14 international students from 13 countries have been interviewed. Here, participants were given the possibility to tell their personal story as international students at the UT. Their motivation to study abroad, the relationship with Dutch students, the perception of the academic environment, their adjustment during the first weeks after arrival and their preparation for the experience abroad have been the main topics. In addition, the participants completed a questionnaire on the same topics which has been compared to the qualitative results of the interviews. The results of the qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data show that the following factors have a significant effect on international students’ integration process and success: the students’ initial motivation/intention to study abroad; their level of (perceived) preparedness for studying abroad; the intensity of acculturative stress they experience; and the ability to integrate mediated by the hospitality of host students and teaching staff. Also, origin and age have been found to have an effect on the integration process and success of international students. Taking the findings from relevant literature and the results of the present study into account, an advice for the University of Twente has been formulated in terms of internationalisation and the integration of international students. Here, amongst other aspects, the UT is advised to formulate a clear vision and realistic goals in terms of internationalisation, to promote intercultural exchange strategically under local students and academic staff members, to invest in platforms for intercultural interaction between international and local students inside and outside the classroom and to carefully monitor internationalisation and react adequately to changes. Eventually, every advice has been supplemented with practical instructions how to achieve the improvements.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61295
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