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International Students at University

Understanding the Student Experience

Harshi Gunawardena and Rachel Wilson

Education of international students is central to the aims, orientation and financial viability of many universities. However, the way that culture impacts on the experiences of international students remains largely unexplored. This may be due to two factors: first, much of the previous research treats the entire international cohort as a homogeneous group without investigating the diversity of cultural backgrounds and; second, the research methods used to investigate student ‘experiences’ in universities are dominated by quantitative surveys that leave little room for exploring personal perspectives and new issues. This book higlights the cultural issues that emerge in the experiences of international students. The authors explore the Australian international tertiary education sector and focus on one cultural group. Through a culturally-sensitive theoretical framework, the experiences of students from the Indian subcontinent are given voice. The resulting personal accounts provide a platform upon which more appropriate policy, marketing, pedagogy and future research can develop to provide tertiary systems that are more responsive to the needs of students.

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Chapter 1 International Students in Australia - The Historical Context ............... 1 Internationalisation of Higher Education in Australia .......................... 5 Australian Universities & Strategies of Governmentality .................... 6 Postcolonial Perspectives of Internationalisation ................................. 9 Understanding the Terminology ......................................................... 10 Chapter 2 International Students in Australia - The Student Experience ........... 15 Social and Cultural Issues Related to Transition ................................ 16 Motivations for Studying Abroad: ‘Push & Pull’ Factors .................. 16 Establishing Ties with the Host Country ............................................ 20 Socio-Economic Issues Related to Transition .................................... 22 Issues Related to the Cultural Adjustment to the Australian Environment ................................................................ 25 English Language Acquisition and Proficiency ................................. 28 International Students’ Perspectives of English Language Proficiency ............................................................ 28 Accent and Language Proficiency ...................................................... 32 vi International Students’ Teaching and Learning Issues ....................... 33 Cultural Differences in Learning Styles ............................................. 33 Critical Reasoning and Thinking ........................................................ 39 Curriculum Knowledge and Content .................................................. 41 The Re-Emergence of the Culture Deficit Hypothesis ....................... 44 Issues Related to Teaching International Students ............................. 47 An Overview of Biggs’s Three Levels of Teaching ........................... 48 Roosevelt’s Diversity Paradigm ......................................................... 51 Chapter 3 Theoretical Perspectives - Postcolonial Strategies of Intervention ... 57 Edward Said’s Oriental Project: Imperialism & Metropolitan Knowledge .................................................................... 58 Representations of the Developing Countries in Imperial Texts ........ 59 The Complicity between Politics and Metropolitan Knowledge Production ................................................. 61 The Disparity Between Representation and Actuality ....................... 62 English Language and Text in Imperial Education ............................ 63 Homi Bhabha and the Ambivalence of Postcolonial Identity ........... 65 “The Enigma of Arrival”: Narratives of Migration ............................ 68 Mimicry and Ambivalence: Strategies of Survival ............................ 72 Hybridity Theory: ‘How Newness Enters the World’ ........................ 73 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ ................. 75 vii Representation: Continuing...

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