Internationalising Education

The idea of becoming an ‘international student’ and travelling overseas to complete our studies at various colleges and universities is growing in popularity. What defines an international student though? Is it the act of being in a different country, or is it the knowledge you receive as a result of said studies? Sheffield University’s Student Union believes that students don’t necessarily need to travel abroad to be categorised as an international student.

International education is known to be one of Australia’s top three export industries, but the experiences it should provide is lacking. A large majority of international/ exchange students are not receiving the social experiences they should when visiting and living in Australia. Even though Australia is a place where multiculturalism is encouraged, local students display little to no interest when it comes to interacting with the new international students. Nobody wants to put themselves out there and take a risk; no matter how beneficial it could be.

There are many barriers international students have to deal with when they first move to their new country of choice. Not everyone speaks English to begin with, so many students are fronted with the task of learning a new language to better understand their surroundings. It may not even be learning a new language, but understanding the slang used in everyday Australian speech. Another issue they may have to deal with is home sickness. Some may have a harder time adjusting to life without their family being within close range to them, and many local students overlook that. They don’t necessarily understand how hard it may be for people to move, sometimes, half a world away from some of their biggest supporters.

Simon Marginson from the University of Melbourne states (2012, pp.1) “… if international education is important to succeed as a business in this country, the student experience must keep improving. It must keep improving in exactly this way, as an intercultural encounter.”

 

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