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Internationalization of the student body : boost for extra-curricular involvement or road to campus lethargy?

Martin, J.J. (2018) Internationalization of the student body : boost for extra-curricular involvement or road to campus lethargy?

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Abstract:This thesis analysis the effects of an increase in the share of international students in a study program on the character of its study association and how this has a defining impact on the peer-group interactions between students of that program. The thesis is an explorative case study about the University of Twente and six of its study associations. From each of the associations the board members most involved with internationalization have been interviewed. Assessed has first been the share of international students in a study program, second the quantitative and qualitative involvement of international students in the study association and third the change in the character of the study association as perceived through the board members. The qualitative involvement was measured in three dimensions: first, the commitment to the study association, second, the emotional connection to the association and its members and, third, the influence on the association and its members. This has been placed in the context of the institutional environment and the national public policy debate. In the end the practical implications of the study are discussed. One of the main outcomes of the study is that at four out of the six associations international students were less active than Dutch and that international students showed a stronger interest in the activities of the associations related to education and a weaker one on those related to bonding with peers. This could lead to a change in character of study associations. How associations approach this situation mainly depends on how they see their role. There are two main understandings of how to be a study association: The first is to enable new students to experience the already existing community and traditions which have developed at the association over the course of time and make them accessible. This, one could call a supply oriented approach. For the second approach it is used as a starting point what the currently enrolled students are most interested in and then the activities and traditions are chosen accordingly. One could call this a demand oriented approach. Board members did not fear that the arrival of international students would lead to an undesired change in the character of their association because the current members were in control on whether they would allow this change to happen or not. How effortful an associations experienced the inclusion of international students seemed to be not related to the actual efforts, but on the mindset towards change and what is just. There are several pieces of advice which arise from the findings how to better involve international students at study association to prevent that changes in the student population will negatively affect peer-group interactions: the institutional management could work towards leveling the playing field between Dutch and international students for taking on a position in a board; study associations could try to enthuse as many international students as possible to join committees early on during their first year; they could explore how they can facilitate and promote being a way to find friends for international students; associations could refrain from having committees focused on cultural exchange and integration as these tend to cluster all international students in one committee instead of creating an internationally minded environment in several committees; and lastly all efforts to be inclusive towards international students should be appreciated regardless whether they come from a nopositive-discrimination standpoint or whether they are representing the courage to drop long-standing traditions to be more welcoming towards international students even if this means changing the nature of study associations.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general, 81 education, teaching, 88 social and public administration
Programme:Management Society and Technology BSc (56654)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/76108
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