International student

UNESCO defines international students as "students who have crossed a national or territorial border for the purpose of education and are now enrolled outside their country of origin." International students typically hold a non-resident visa status (sometimes called a student’s visa) to pursue a tertiary degree (or higher) in the destination country. In contrast, foreign students include visa-holding international students and other non-citizens holding permanent residence (e.g. Green Card in the US).[1] In 2013, there were over 4.1 million internationally mobile students (roughly 2% of all tertiary students), up from 2 million in 2000 (UNESCO, 2016). While US and the UK attracted nearly one-third of all globally mobile students, their leadership is under threat in the "Third Wave" of political turbulence and intense competition from English-medium Instruction or English-taught Programs in countries like China and Continental Europe.[2]

National definitions

The definition of "foreign student" and "international student" varies in each country in accordance to their own national education system. Here are couple of examples:

United States: International students are "Individuals studying in the United States on a non-immigrant, temporary visa that allows for academic study at the post- secondary level. Immigrants, permanent residents, citizens, resident aliens ("Green Card" holders), and refugees are excluded from this definition."

Canada: International student is "A temporary resident who has been approved by an immigration officer to study in Canada. The study permit identifies the level of study and the length of time the individual may study in Canada. International students do not need a study permit for courses of six months or less if they will finish the course within the period of stay authorized upon entry, which is usually six months. Every foreign student must have a student authorization, but may also have been issued other types of permits or authorizations."

Australia: International student is "A student on a student visa studying in Australia with an institution registered to deliver courses to such students. Students from New Zealand are not included in the student enrollment counts as they do not require a student visa."

Japan: international student is "A student from a foreign economy who is receiving an education at any Japanese university, graduate school, junior college, college of technology, professional training college or university preparatory course and who resides in Japan with a 'college student' visa status."

Destinations of foreign students

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in their 2009 World Conference on Higher Education report, Over 2.5 million students were studying outside their home country. UNESCO also predicted that the number of foreign students might rise to approximately 7 million by the year 2020. The main destinations preferred were the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada and Australia. Overall, the number of foreign students more than doubled to over 2 million between 2000 and 2007.[3]

However the sharpest percentage increases of foreign students have occurred in New Zealand, Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland.[3]

Traditionally the U.S and U.K have been the most prestigious choices, due to dominating university top 10 rankings with the likes of Harvard, Oxford, MIT and Cambridge. More recently however they have had to compete with the rapidly growing Asian higher education market. While US is the leading destination for foreign students, there is increasing competition from several destinations in East Asia such as China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan which are keen on attracting foreign students for reputation and demographic reasons.[4]

Student mobility in the first decade of the 21st century has been transformed by two major external events, the events of 9/11 and the recession of 2008.[2] 9/11 forced US to tighten visa requirements for students and Australia and the UK cashed in on this opportunity and were successful in absorbing most of the growth in foreign students. The growth story for Australia and the UK would have continued, but the recession of 2008 exposed two aspects of international student enrollment in these countries—unmanageable high proportion of foreign students compared to home students and issues of quality raised by the use of aggressive recruitment practices. In 2009, international students represented 21.5% and 15.3% of higher education enrollment in Australia and the UK, compared to less than 4% in the US, according to the OECD.[5]

According to OECD, almost one out of five foreign students is regionally mobile. This segment of regionally mobile students who seek global education at local cost is defined as "glocal" students. Many "glocal" students consider pursuing transnational or cross-border education which allows them to earn a foreign credential while staying in their home countries.[6] With the increase in tuition cost in leading destinations like the US and the UK along with the higher immigration barriers, many international students are exploring alternative destinations and demanding more "value for money."

A recent report projects that the number of internationally mobile students will reach 6.9 million by 2030—an increase of 51%, or 2.3 million students, from 2015.[7]

Top 10 countries for foreign student enrollment

RankDestination countryTotal number of foreign students
1 United States1,043,839
2 China489,200 [8]
3 United Kingdom442,375 [9][10]
4 Canada370,975 [11]
5 France309,642
6 Australia292,352
7 Russia282,921 [12]
8 Germany235,858
9 Japan152,062
10 Spain76,057 [13]


Annually around 750,000 Chinese and 400,000 Indian students apply to overseas higher education institutions.[14][15] New enrollment of undergraduate and graduate foreign students at American universities and colleges for 2016-17 declined by 2.1% or nearly 5,000 students which translates into a potential revenue of US$125 million for the first year of studies alone.[16] Much of the increase in foreign students in the U.S. during 2013–2014 was fueled by undergraduate students from China, the report's authors found. The number of Chinese students increased to 31 percent of all foreign students in the U.S. – the highest concentration the top country of origin has had since IIE began producing the report in 1948. This is changing quickly with demographic projections showing a large impending decrease in volumes of students from China and Russia and steady increases in students from India and Africa. The number of foreign students in tertiary (university or college) education is also rapidly increasing as higher education becomes an increasingly global venture.[17] During 2014-15, 974,926 foreign students came to study in the U.S, which is almost double the population from 2005. Chinese students have always been the largest demographic amongst foreign students. The top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total foreign student enrollment are: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Mexico. The total number of foreign students from all places of origin by field of study are: Business/Management, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical and Life Sciences, Humanities, Fine and Applied Arts, Health Professions, Education, and Agriculture.[18]

Top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total foreign student enrollment 2015-2016

RankPlace of OriginNumber of StudentsPercent of Total
3Saudi Arabia61,2875.9%
4South Korea61,0075.8%

Total number of foreign students from all places of origin by field of study 2015-2016

RankField of StudyNumber of StudentsPercent of Total
1Business and Management200,31219.2%
3Other/Unspecified Subject Areas185,10717.7%
4Mathematics and Computer Sciences141,65113.6%
5Social Sciences81,3047.8%
6Physical and Life Sciences75,3857.2%
8Fine and Applied Arts59,7365.7%
9Health Professions33,9473.3%

The number of US visas issued to Chinese students to study at US universities has increased by 30 per cent, from more than 98,000 in 2009 to nearly 128,000 in October 2010, placing China as the top country of origin for foreign students, according to the "2010 Open Doors Report" published on the US Embassy in China website. The number of Chinese students increased. Overall, the total number of foreign students with a US Visa to study at colleges and universities increased by 3 per cent to a record high of nearly 691,000 in the 2009/2010 academic year. The 30 per cent increase in Chinese student enrolment was the main contributor to this year's growth, and now Chinese students account for more than 18 percent of the total foreign students.[19]


In 2017, China was the third largest receiver of international students globally, with 489,200 international students.[20][21]

Numbers and growth

The number of international students in China has grown steadily since 2003, with apparently no impact from the rise of terrorism or the 2008 global financial crisis. In contrast to the reported decline of enrollments in the USA[22] and the UK,[23] China's international student market continues to strengthen. China is now the leading destination globally for Anglophone African students.[24]

By sending continent

In 2016, the students coming to China were mostly from Asia (60%), followed by Europe (16%) and Africa (14%). However, Africa had the highest growth rate at 23.7% year-on-year 2015-2016.[20]

By sending country

The top 15 countries sending countries to China in 2016 are listed below. African countries are grouped together and show a considerable block of students.[20][21]

RankCountryNumber of StudentsPercent of Total2017 rank
1 South Korea70,54015.93%1
-All African countries grouped together61,59413.91%
2 United States23,8385.38%4
3 Thailand23,0445.20%2
4 India18,7174.23%5
5 Pakistan18,6264.21%3
6 Russia17,9714.06%6
7 Indonesia14,7143.32%8
8 Kazakhstan13,9963.16%9
9 Japan13,5953.07%7
10 Vietnam10,6392.40%
11 France10,4142.35%
12 Laos9,9072.24%10
13 Mongolia8,5081.92%
14 Germany8,1451.84%
15 Malaysia6,8801.55%
Where in China they are

In 2016, international students mostly went to study in the major centers of Beijing (77,234, 17.44%) and Shanghai (59,887, 13.53%). In recent years there has been a decentralization and dispersion of students to other provinces.

Reasons for coming to China

Various factors combine to make China a very desirable destination for international students.

  1. China boasts a significant number of world-class universities.[25]
  2. Universities in China are attractive research centers.[26]
  3. It costs relatively less than studying in developed countries.[27]
  4. There is a huge diversity of universities and programs.[27]
  5. There are more career opportunities due to China's growing economic strength.[27]
  6. Many graduate and postgraduate programs are offered in English.
  7. A huge number of scholarships (49,022 in 2016) are on offer from the Chinese government.[20]

China is openly pursuing a policy of growing its soft power globally, by way of persuasion and attraction. Attracting international students, especially by way of scholarships, is one effective way of growing this influence.[28][29]

Germany and France

In 2006, with approximately 20% of the world's foreign students, or 515,000 out of the 2.7 million students studying outside their countries, Germany and France are best understood as secondary higher education destinations.[30]

With the Franco-German University, the two countries have established a framework for cooperation between their universities, enabling students to participate in specific Franco-German courses of study across borders.[31]

Japan, Canada and New Zealand

Japan, Canada and New Zealand are perceived as evolving destinations for international students. In 2006, Japan, Canada and New Zealand together shared roughly 13% of the international student market, with approximately 327,000 of the 2.7 million students who traveled abroad for the purposes of higher education.[30] Japan has around 180 000 overseas students studying at its institutions and the government has set targets to increase this to 300, 000 over the next few years.[32] Canada has seen a large increase in the number of Indian students, where the number of Indian students rose 280% in 2010 compared to 2008.[33] Organizations such as Learnhub are taking advantage of this growing trend of Indian international students by providing recruitment services that bring Indian students abroad.[34] In 2012, in Canada 10 percent of university students were international students.[35] Canada accepted more than 100,000 international students for the first time,[36] bringing the total number of international students in Canada to 260,000,[37] which is nearly identical to that of Australia's 280,000. Recent changes to Canada's immigration regulations that came into effect on January 1, 2015 have placed international graduates from Canadian universities at a disadvantage. Under the new rules, foreign students who hold a degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions will be treated on par with other groups of skilled workers.[38]

Malaysia, Singapore and India

Malaysia, Singapore and India are the emerging destinations for international students. These three countries have combined share of approximately 12% of the global student market with somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 students having decided to pursue higher education studies in these countries in 2005–2006.[30]

The flow of international students above indicates the South-North phenomenon. In this sense, students from Asia prefer to pursue their study particularly in the United States.

The recent statistics on mobility of international students can be found in;

  • The 2009 Global Education Digest (GED)[39] by UNESCO
  • International Flows of Mobile Students at the Tertiary Level[40] by UNESCO
  • Empowering People to Innovate - International Mobility[41] by OECD.


Prospective foreign students are usually required to sit for language tests, such as Cambridge English: First,[42] Cambridge English: Advanced,[43] Cambridge English: Proficiency,[44] IELTS,[45] TOEFL,[46] iTEP,[47] PTE Academic,[48] DELF[49] or DELE,[50] before they are admitted. Tests notwithstanding, while some international students already possess an excellent command of the local language upon arrival, some find their language ability, considered excellent domestically, inadequate for the purpose of understanding lectures, and/or of conveying oneself fluently in rapid conversations. A research report commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators investigated the scope of third-party providers offerings intensive English preparation programs with academic credit for international students in the United States.[51] These pathway programs are designed to recruit and support international students needing additional help with English and academic preparation before matriculating to a degree program.

Student Visa

Generally, foreign students as citizens of other countries are required to obtain a student visa, which ascertains their legal status for staying in the second country.[52] In the United States, before students come to the country, the students must select a school to attend to qualify for a student visa. The course of study and the type of school a foreign student plans to attend determine whether an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa is needed. Each student visa applicant must prove they have the financial ability to pay for their tuition, books and living expenses while they study in the states.[53]

Economic impact

Research from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) shows the economic benefits of the increasing international higher-education enrollment in the United States. According to their 2013-2014 academic year analysis, international students have contributed $26.8 billion to the U.S economy and 340,000 jobs. This is almost a 12% increase in dollars added to the economy and an 8.5% increase associated with job support and creation compared to the previous year. International students contribute more than job and monetary gains to the economy. NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson has stated, "[international students] bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework."[54] According to NAFSA's research, their diverse views contribute to technological innovation has increased America's ability to compete in the global economy.

Higher education marketing

Marketing of higher education is a well-entrenched macro process today, especially in the major English-speaking nations i.e. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. One of the major factors behind the worldwide evolution of educational marketing could be a result of globalization, which has dramatically shriveled the world. Due to intensifying competition for overseas students amongst MESDCs, i.e. major English-speaking destination countries, higher educational institutions recognize the significance of marketing themselves, in the international arena.[55] To build sustainable international student recruitment strategies Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to diversify the markets from which they recruit, both to take advantage of future growth potential from emerging markets, and to reduce dependency on – and exposure to risk from – major markets such as China, India and Nigeria, where demand has proven to be volatile.[56] For recruitment strategies, there are some approaches that higher education institutions adopt to ensure stable enrollments of international students, such as developing university preparation programs, like the Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) Program, and launching international branch campuses in foreign countries.

Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) Program

The Global Assessment Certification (GAC) Program is a university preparation program, developed and provided by ACT Education Solution, Ltd., for the purpose of helping students to prepare for admission and enrolment overseas.[18] Moreover, the program helps students from non-English speaking backgrounds to prepare for university-level study, so they are able to successfully finish a bachelor's degree at university. This program is primarily getting great attention from non-English-speaking countries like China and South Korea. Students who complete the GAC program have the opportunity to be admitted to 120 universities, so called Pathway Universities, located in popular destinations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.[57] Mainly, the program consists of curriculums, such as Academic English, Mathematics, Computing, Study Skills, Business, Science and Social Science. Moreover, the program also provides the opportunity to get prepared for the ACT exam and English Proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS.[58]

Foreign branch campuses

International branch campus is a new strategy of recruiting foreign students in other countries in order to build strong global outreach by overcoming the limitations of physical distance. Indeed, opening branch campuses play a significant role of widening the landscape of the higher education. In the past, along with high demand for higher education, many universities in the United States established their branch campuses in foreign countries.[59] According to a report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), there was a 43% increase in the number of foreign branch campuses in the worldwide scale since 2006. American higher education institutions mostly take a dominant position in growth rate and the number of foreign branch campuses, accounting for almost 50 percent of current foreign branch campuses.[60] However, some research reports that recently said foreign branching campuses are facing several challenges and setbacks, for example interference of local government,[61] sustainability problems, and long-term prospects like damage on academic reputations and finance.

The challenges for foreign students in English-speaking countries

There is a trend for more and more students to go abroad to study in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia to gain a broader education. English is the only common language spoken at universities in these countries, with the most significant exception being Francophone universities in Canada. International students not only need to acquire good communication skills and fluent English both in writing and speaking, but also absorb the Western academic writing culture in style, structure, reference, and the local policy toward academic integrity in academic writing.[62] International students may have difficulty completing satisfactory assignments because of the difficulty with grammar and spelling, differences in culture, or a lack of confidence in English academic writing. Insightful opinions may lose the original meaning when transformed from the student's native language to English. Even if international students acquire good scores in English proficiency exams or are able to communicate with native British students frequently in class, they often find that the wording and formatting of academic papers in English-speaking universities are different from what they are used to due to certain cultural abstraction. Students who experience this discrepancy get lower scores of adaptability to new environment and higher scores about anxiety. Instead of the mood, students who were further away from home would be more willing to go back home and regress from their aims in life, this hardship can lead to depression. Partly this is due to the academic contagions of the foreign university like not integrating contrastive rhetoric aspect, low-support for adaptation like providing opportunities to better their English in a non-competitive and meaningful way. [63]

Most foreign students encounter difficulties in language use. Such issues make it difficult for the student to make domestic friends and gain familiarity with the local culture. Sometimes, these language barriers can subject international students to ignorance or disrespect from native speakers.[64] Most international students are also lacking a support groups in the country they are studying. Although all the colleges in North America, that are in a student exchange programs, do have International Student Office, it sometimes does not have resources and capability to consider their students' individual needs when it comes to adapting the new environment. The more a particular college has students coming from the same country the better the support is for getting involved to the new culture.[65]

Foreign students have several challenges in their academic studies at North American universities. Studies have shown that these challenges include several different factors: inadequate English proficiency; unfamiliarity with North American culture; lack of appropriate study skills or strategies; academic learning anxiety; low social self-efficacy; financial difficulties; and separation from family and friends.[66] Despite the general perception that American culture is characterized more by diversity than by homogeneity, the American ideology of cultural homogeneity implies an American mindset that because Eurocentric cultures are superior to others, people with different cultures should conform to the dominant monocultural canon and norms.[67]

U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where their higher-education system cannot meet the demand. Three years ago, a record 10 million students throughout China took the national college entrance test, competing for 5.7 million university slots. Because foreign undergraduates typically fail to qualify for U.S. federal aid, colleges here can provide limited financial help. Now, thanks to China's booming economy in recent years, more Chinese families can afford to pay. U.S. colleges also face challenges abroad. Worries about fraud on test scores and transcripts make occasional headlines. And even Chinese students who test high on an English-language proficiency test may not be able to speak or write well enough to stay up to speed in a U.S. classroom, where essay writing and discussions are common.[68] Chinese international students face other challenges besides language proficiency. The Chinese educational structure focuses on exam-oriented education, with educational thinking and activities aimed towards meeting the entrance examination. Students stress more on exam performance, and teachers are inclined to focus on lecturing to teach students what may be on the test. In addition, "parents are also convinced that the more students listened to the lectures, the better they would score on the finals."[69] With more than 304,040 Chinese students enrolled in the US in 2014/15, China is by far the leading source of international students at American universities and colleges, however, there are three waves of growth in Chinese students in the US. Each of the three waves differs in terms of needs and expectations and corresponding support services needed. Unfortunately, many higher education institutions have not adapted to the changing needs.[70] It is no surprise that many Chinese students are now questioning if it is worth investing in studying abroad.[71]

International students also face cross-cultural barriers that hinder their ability to succeed in a new environment.[72] For example, there are differences in terms of receiving and giving feedback which influences the academic engagement and even job and internship search approach of international students.[73]

Plagiarism is the most serious offense in academia.[74] Plagiarism has two subtle forms, one of which includes the omission of elements required for proper citations and references.[75] The second form is unacknowledged use or incorporation of another person's work or achievement. Violation of either form can result in a student's expulsion. For the international students the word plagiarism is a foreign word.[76] Most of them are unfamiliar with American academic standards and colleges aren’t good about giving a clear definition of the word's meaning. For example, many international students don’t know using even one sentence of someone else's work can be considered plagiarism. Most colleges give students an E on their plagiarized assignments and future offenses often result in failing class or being kicked out of university.

Mental Wellness

International students studying in a foreign country face a life altering event which can cause distress that can potentially affect their mental wellness.[77] Many students report homesickness and loneliness in their initial transition, experience isolation from peers and struggle with understanding cultural differences while staying abroad.[78] In certain cultures, mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness. Because of this, international students believe they can prevail through their struggles alone without help, which can lead to, a decrease in mental wellness.[79]

Common symptoms among international students from China in particular noted that two prevailing symptoms were discovered: 45 percent of the students faced depression and 29 percent of the students faced anxiety.[80] Stressors that lead international students to struggle with anxiety are rooted in numerous causes, including academic pressures, financial issues, adapting to a new culture, creating friendships, and feelings of loneliness.[81] International students are also more likely to rely on peers for support through their transition than teachers or adult peers.[82] If the student is unable to make friends in their new environment, they will struggle more with their transition than an international student who has established relationships with their peers.[83]

International students also face language discrimination, which may exacerbate mental health symptoms.[83] Evidence has not conclusively shown that language discrimination is a greater risk factor than discrimination against foreigners.[83] However, there has not been any conclusive evidence to show whether language discrimination plays a significantly larger role than simple foreigner discrimination.[84]

Since international students are less likely to use individual counseling provided by the university.[85] and may experience even more intense stigmas against seeking professional help,[86] group-oriented ways of reaching students may be more helpful.[87] Group activities, like collaborative workshops and cultural exchange groups, can introduce a sense of community among the students.[88] In addition, efforts can be placed to improve awareness and accessibility to mental wellness resources and counseling services.[89] Social workers, faculty, and academic staff can be educated beforehand to provide an adequate support for them.[90]

Study abroad

Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a country other than one's own.[91] This can include primary, secondary and post-secondary students. A 2012 study showed number of students studying abroad represents about 9.4% of all students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States[92][93] and it is a part of experience economy.[94][95]

Studying abroad is a valuable program for international students as it is intended to increase the students' knowledge and understanding of other cultures. International education not only helps students with their language and communicating skills, but also encourages students to develop a different perspective and cross cultural understanding of their studies which will further their education and benefit them in their career.[96][97] Main factors that determine the outcome quality of international studies are transaction dynamics (between the environmental conditions and the international student), quality of environment, and the student's coping behavior.

Distinctions in Classroom culture

Certain distinctions and differences can become sources of cultural shock and cultural misunderstandings that can lead a student to inhibit adaptation and adjustment. For example, a key requirement in many foreign institutions is participation. Failure to participate in the classroom with faculty can be a serious obstacle to academic success and if it is coupled with the view that professors are to be held in awe, then the problem can be reflected in the grades given for class participation. Lack of participation can be interpreted by faculty as failure to learn the course content or disinterest in the topic.

Some of the identified distinctions are:[98]

  • Semester system has three models, they are (1) the semester system comprising two terms, one in fall and one in winter/spring (summer term is not required); (2) the trimester system comprising three terms that includes summer (one of these terms can be a term of vacation); and (3) the quarter system comprising the four terms of fall, winter, spring, and summer, and in which the student can choose one of them to take as a vacation.
  • The schedule of the classes is a standard five-day week for classes, but the instruction hours in a week may be divided into a variety of models. Two common models of choice are Monday/Wednesday/Friday (MWF) and Tuesday/Thursday (TT) model. As a result, the class hours per week are the same, but the length of time per class for the MWF will be different from the TT.
  • Most foreign institutes values ideologies of fairness and independence. This standards ensure the rights and responsibilities of all students, regardless of background. Most institutions that define the rights and responsibilities of their students also provide a code of conduct to guide their behavior. Because independence and freedom comes with responsibilities.
  • Certain immigration regulations allow international students to gain practical experience during their studies through employment in their field of study like an internship during your study, and at other times for one year of employment after you complete your studies. The eligibility factors are often disseminated through international students office at the college or university.
  • Faculty differ both in rank and by the duration of their contracts. They are (1) Distinguished teaching and research faculty hold the most honored rank among faculty. They typically have the doctoral degree and are usually tenured (i.e. on a permanent contract with the school until they retire) and record of their personal excellence accounts for their standing; (2) Emeritus professors are honored faculty who have retired from the university but continue to teach or undertake research at colleges and universities; (3) Full professors are also tenured and hold the doctoral degree. It is length of service and the support of departmental chairpersons, colleagues, and administrators that leads to the promotion to this rank; (4) Associate professors typically hold the doctoral degree and are the most recent to receive tenure; (5) Assistant professors may or may not yet have their doctoral degrees and have held their teaching or research posts for less than seven years; (6) Instructors are usually the newest faculty. They may or may not hold the doctoral degree and are working towards tenure; (7) Adjunct professors and visiting professors may hold professorial rank at another institution. They are not tenured (usually retained on a year by year contract) and they are often honored members of the university community.
  • Most institutes that accept international students have faculty who are leaders that can integrate best elements of teacher centered and learner centered pedagogical styles that integrates and leads students of every diversity to a path of success. They are careful not to obstruct a student with their own personality or achievements and maintain a resourceful, open and supportive "holding environment". Simplified, meaningful resource dissemination and engaging students in participatory and active learning is the key to this mixed learning. Lack of skill in handling such pedagogical methods might result in straining the students (taking classes in a faster pace disregarding the quality and quantity of the information transferred, which translates as lack of internal agency to make students learning meaningful by being an educational agent - lack of teacher agency[99]) and at other instances downgrade into a liberal laissez-faire style which might affect negatively on students performance. The skill of the tutor is exemplified in many forms one such is when they are able to keep some students from dominating (attention seeking, disruptive or disrespectful) and to draw in those who are reticent in a participatory section.
  • Students are expected to know the content of their courses from the class website (structure of the course, frame of references, jargon's) and to think independently about it and to express their own perspectives and opinions in class and in their written work. Open disagreement is a sign of violent intentions in certain cultures and in other cultures it is merely expressing one’s opinion, this aspect can be challenging if proper people skills is absent in the group and group development isn't given importance. Similar is the case with asking questions, in certain classroom cultures it is tolerated asking vague questions and this is interpreted as a sign of interest from the student whereas in other cultures asking vague questions is a display of ignorance in public that results in loss of face and embarrassment, even if this behavior is counterproductive for a learning environment, it is largely dependent upon the transaction dynamics in classroom cultures. There are also certain institutes and cultures that disallow student discussion at certain topics and keep limitations to what can be discussed and punitive means for deterring from topics that shouldn't be discussed.[100] But often direct communication is considered vital for academic survival.
  • Foreign university programs differ from structured programs of universities in certain countries. In each quarter the student is given choice to select the courses they deem important to them for gaining credits. There is no proportion for no. of courses that a student can take in each term, however program fees paid at a single time can lead to fees deduction in each quarter. In general, students are not recommended to take many courses at a time as they require to gain certain no. of credits to pass a quarter which is dependent upon the grades that they obtain from the courses, and this credits have little to do with the actual credit hours spent for each courses. For the courses students have to pre-register as they are not automatically assigned. Though its an open structure for course selections, students might require to take certain compulsory courses for the program as maintained by departments for degree standardization.
  • Foreign institutions differ in their requirement of the content that a student require to be familiarized with and this difference is identifiable in programs which have similar objectives and structure that of different universities. Some may be professional oriented and thus give importance to depth in certain areas and some might be for providing a breadth of knowledge on the subject. Commonly, some institutes might require to master the essentials of a subject as a whole while others might require to master large quantities of content on the subject which might not seem practical in a framework of short period of time (An example is 10,000-Hour Rule).[101] More accessible institutions provide syllabus of their previous and current programs and courses for better pre- and post- program communication.
  • Classroom etiquette may differ from institute to institute. In western institutes the old standard of practice for students to address faculty is by their last name and the title "Professor", but it is not uncommon for faculty to be on a first-name basis with students today. However it is a good etiquette to check with the faculty member before addressing him or her by their first name only. Both students and faculty often dress very informally, and it is not unusual for faculty to roam the classroom while talking or to sit on the edge of a table in a very relaxed posture. Relaxed dress and posture are not, however, signs of relaxed standards of performance. Sometimes faculty, administrators, and even staff may sometimes hold receptions or dinners for their students. In that case, students should ask what the dress should be for the occasion; sometimes students will be expected to wear professional dress (suit coat and tie for men, and a suit or more formal dresses for women). Faculty wouldn't be caring even if they elicit the need of participation in classroom or as personally involved with students even if they engage students in frameworks/styles the student might understand the topic. This is because the faculty-student relationship is considered to be professional. Relationships in the West are most often determined by some kind of function. Here the function is guidance, education and skill development.
  • In occidental institutions students are evaluated in many ways, including exams, papers, lab reports, simulation results, oral presentations, attendance and participation in classroom discussion. The instructors use a variety of types of exams, including multiple choice, short answer, and essay. Most adept instructor's provide guides or models of assignment construction, framing and on asking questions and how to prepare for their exams. Most students are expected to be creative in presentation (to avoid similarity in paper submissions), systematic in formatting (citation: Style guide) and invested for drawing and providing positive individualism to the group/class (group purpose, role identity for autonomy, positive thinking, value oriented responsible self-expression, etc. vs. attendant selfishness, alienation, divisiveness, etc.) aligned with the common development objective.
  • Relationships are an important part of the foreign academic experience and for healthy social support. Relationships with faculty (instructors and academic advisor's) are very important for academic success and for bridging cultural gap. But in off campus venues, appreciate their life outside of campus and every time you view one another as individuals, avoid asking favors that can affect teacher student comfort zones and expect cautiousness from them in an attempt to avoid notions of favoritism and friendliness to break down barriers of role and culture.

A key factor in international academic success is learning approaches that can be taken on a matter from one another and simultaneously assimilating inter-cultural experiences.

Titles and roles in Administrative structure

  • The vice-chancellor or vice-president for academic affairs manages the various schools and departments.
  • The council of deans oversees the separate schools, institutes, and programs offered by the university or college.
  • The departmental chairperson manages the affairs of the separate departments in each school or college.
  • Faculty is responsible for teaching and research in and beyond the classroom.
  • Secretaries and technical support staff in foreign countries have much authority than their counterparts in certain countries. They are treated respectfully by faculty and students alike.



Accommodation is a major factor that determines study abroad experience.[103][104]

Host family

A host family volunteers to house a student during their program. The family receives payment for hosting. Students are responsible for their own spending, including school fees, uniform, text books, internet, and phone calls. Host families could be family units with or without children or retired couples; most programs require one host to be at least 25 years of age. The host families are well prepared to experience a new culture and give a new cultural experience to the student. A student could live with more than one family during their international study program to expand their knowledge and experience more of the new culture. Host families are responsible for providing a room, meals, and a stable family environment for the student. Most international student advisory's allow for a switch of hosts if problems arise.


An international student involved in study abroad program can choose to live on campus or off campus. Living off campus is a popular choice, because students are more independent and learn more about the new culture when they are on their own. Universities that host international students will offer assistance in obtaining accommodation. Universities in Asia have on-campus housing for international students on exchange or studying full-time. Temporary options include hostels, hotels, or renting. Homestays, paid accommodation with a host family, are available in some countries.

Coping in Study abroad

The w-curve adjustment model

The w-curve model created by Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963) is W shaped model that attempts to give a visual description of a travelers possible experience of culture shock when entering a new culture and the re-entry shock experienced when returning home. The model has seven stages.

  1. Honeymoon Stage
  2. Hostility Stage
  3. Humorous/Rebounding Stage
  4. In-Sync Stage
  5. Ambivalence Stage
  6. Re-Entry Culture Shock Stage
  7. Re-Socialization Stage

Each stage of the model aims to prepare travellers for the rollercoaster of emotions that they may experience both while returning and traveling from a trip abroad. The hope in the creation of this model is to help prepare travelers for the negative feelings often associated with living in another culture. By doing so, it is the goal that these emotions will be better dealt with.[105]

Positive affectivity

Affectivity is an emotional disposition, people who are high on positive affectivity experience positive emotions and moods like joy and excitement, and view the world, including themselves and other people, in a positive light. They tend to be cheerful, enthusiastic, lively, sociable, and energetic. Research has found that student's studying abroad with a positive emotional tendency have higher satisfaction and interaction with the environment, they engage in the staying country's citizenship behaviours.[106][107]

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