The Challenges Facing International Students in Higher Education

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Module Code: PM501 2T
Class/Group: Group A, Class 1
Module Title: Skills for Study 1
Assessment: Final Essay
Assessment Title: Discuss some of the challenges facing international students in higher education and suggest some possible solutions. Tutor Name: Kinga Maior
Student ID Number: 2060494
Date of Submission: Thursday 2nd May 2013
Word Count: 1,004

The number of international students studying in the UK has soared over the past decade due to globalization. Paige (1990) defined International students as those individuals who temporarily lived in the foreign countries and received the education as exchanged students. The main reason why international students come to the foreign countries is that they want to receive better education compared to their origin countries (Hayes and Lin, 1994; Marcketti et al, 2006). Therefore, international students have become an important part in the higher education and significantly increase the income of the universities in the UK. For this reason, this essay will argue that, the international students will face different kinds of challenge mainly focusing on language difficulty, culture barrier and psychological problem in abroad. The paper will outline the challenges facing international students and some possible solutions.

Language difficulty is a general problem that international students would face. English is a second language for international students in the UK and students who want to come to study at higher education level need to pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. British universities mainly regard the IELTS as their entry qualification (Macrae, 1997:3), and an IELTS score of 6 (or less commonly TOEFL 550/213) is the common entry level if the students want to study postgraduate courses at most universities in the UK. However, it is not simple for some international students to pass this test, particularly those non-native students who have a poor English background. Furthermore, during their academic study for international student, the main problem is the language difficulty. It is because that language ability as a critical medium of communication and the academic adjustment is limited without language proficiency (Hofstede, 1991). This will commonly happen to international students at some cases such as essays writing, critical analysis and oral presentations.

Apart from the language barrier, the cultural barrier is another problem faced by international students. As noted by Persaud (1993:45), both of the higher education and the particularly pressure from the alien academic culture are the challenges for International students. In other words, the linguistic difficulties may lead to academic difficulty and failure to understand at a cultural level. Therefore, international students need to make their individual efforts to overcome linguistic problems through every possible way such as reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching television, making native friends and talking with local people. In addition, they should adjust themselves to the new life abroad and get information to the local culture environment they are not familiar with. Certainly, universities also have the responsibility to help international students to overcome the cultural shock they face. For solution, universities in the UK should incorporate some knowledge of native cultures into class to help students get to know some the UK cultures and this could benefit everyone.

Psychological problem is another challenge for international students. Some scholars defined psychological stress as ‘a certain relationship between an individual and the environment that the person evaluate it as taxing or exceeding his or her resources and may endanger his or her well-being’ (Lazarus and Folkman, 1984:19). International students are faced different kind of stresses when they study abroad. Some could adjust their emotion soon but others may need more...
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