Understanding the Student Experience
Chapter 6 Conclusions and Challenges 183
183 Chapter 6 Conclusions and Challenges International education is an AU$12.5 billion dollar industry and Australia’s third largest export (Department of Science and Training (DEST) 2008). Despite the value to the Australian economy, international students experience a plethora of misadventures and a range of problems related to economic, social and cultural issues that impact on their experiences at Australian universities. Previous research (Bamford et al. 2002; Biggs 1994a, b, 1996. 2003; Edgeworth and Eisman 2007; Krause 2005a, b; McInnis 2001a, b) broadly attributed these difficulties to ‘cultural differences’. However, there is little attention in educational research to the way that culture impacts on the experiences of international students. This is largely due to the kind of instruments used to investigate both ‘culture’ and ‘experiences’. Using a historical and culturally-sensitive theoretical framework and research tools we explored the experiences of international students from the Indian subcontinent. Choosing Australia as the Destination Country There are many factors that draw international students to Australia, which vary along cultural and economic lines. Australia was not the first destination choice for the majority of international students from the Indian subcontinent. A series of other values emerged as important and significant in making Australia their choice. 184 While there were individual differences in income, the current research suggests that students coming to Australia from the Indian subcontinent are from the lower end of the rising middle class. Ninety- five percent of the participants in this study had student loans, and 88% of the students were...
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