THE PERCEPTION AND EXPERIENCES OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
WHEN STUDYING IN THE UK.
While China, along with other Asian countries including Malaysia, India and Hong Kong China have become the top countries sending students to the UK (International student, 2022), it is quite obvious that Asians are finding more difficulties than other European countries in overcoming and adapting to different cultural and language issue, not to mention the fact that students are facing a more competitive academic environment and the mounting pressure placed by course deadline and different essays and papers. For international students, the most challenging things they faced while studying in a multicultural nation may come from the classroom, or a textbook, or from their professor. This paper will try to examine what international students, especially Asians, feel about learning and living in the UK.
Academic Education believes that Study in UK is More popular to International students for all the following advantages such as high ranked universities, low to highest university cost, great city to live in, job opportunities, great facilities, cultural diversity and a bright future (Academic Education, 2022). With all these anticipations, international students, whose countries may not have the same educational resources as the UK, are seeking higher education abroad, which in turn, make the UK become one of the top destinations to study around the world (International student, 2022).
What’s more, it has been noted that opportunities are offered for international students in the UK to learn from the worlds’ leading tutors and scientists (Ingham, 2021). As a definition, learning behavior is a relatively permanent change in mental associations due to experience ( Ellis Ormrod, 1999). However, international students studying at higher education are facing challenges including languages barriers and their lack of knowledge regarding technical, political or cultural terminology. Most students may not even feel that a lack of social and cultural knowledge of UK had affected their abilities to study. As a consequence, they may find it hard to involved in the lecture and thus make it difficult for lecturers to adjust their teaching forms and methods. (J. Bamford, 2008)
Questionnaires will be mainly used to conduct this research study. Questionnaire will be deliver to students with no former inform and was require to submit within 20 minutes in order to assure the facticity and effectiveness. While the questionnaires are being recognized subjective form of collecting information, we have tried to increase the objectiveness by designing the questions and selecting the participants carefully.
The participants are international students, including my classmates and ONCAMPUS students Clustered sampling technique will be use to select the subgroups of the target population. Cluster units will include two major subgroups of Asian students, including students from south eastern Asia including India, Thailand and Vietnam and South Asia particularly Singapore, which is a well-developed country in South Asia and Indonesia, a Muslim based country. Also, Gender inclusivity is an important factor to consider aiming at ensuring both male and female students are involved in participation. The age of participants is between 17-35 years old and included pursing undergraduates, undergraduates, post-graduates and Ph.Ds.
From the results of the questionnaires, it’s quite obvious that the participants are quite eager to share their points of view and these participants were representative of many Asian students who have had significant learning and living experiences in UK, which pertain to the cross-cultural experience outside of the classroom. Although the small sample is not representative of each country, it is still considered to be valuable information to analysis.
(Graph1: The difference between studying in your own country and UK)
(Graph2: The advantages of studying in UK.)
The results show that the key reason why many Asian are pursing education aboard is to experience the culture differences (Graph1), as learning in UK will surely be significantly different from their peers who are getting educated in their homeland country. They supposed and anticipated that their future job will be more competitive and well-paid, compared to the condition that if they were studied in Thailand or Beijing. Acknowledging the feeling of being different and being changed by the environment that is in their control and the feelings of freedom and relaxation are the main factors that can be interpreted from the results. (Graph1) Somehow, the participants are neglecting the culture shock, as they have put more attention to the environment, where it is not restrained by their families and regular friend circle back in their homeland. Freeing themselves with restrictions and concerns, and a multitude of possibilities aids the experiences of learning in UK (Graph2), even though they sometimes suffered from homesickness and unidentified with the exotic environment. However, they were quickly healed by the anticipation of a better self in the future and also the excitement of randomness. The fact that they are also being exposed in a campus environment that offered high standard of living (Graph2) is another contributing factors since UK is relatively secure compared to the United States, which is the largest country attracting international students.
(Graph 3: rating 1-5 if you feel you understand everything in the class)
Although life may be fun in the UK, the studying experiences are different stories as international students may find themselves struggling to understand everything in classroom. From Graph 3, it’s obvious that over 80% students of the participants states that we could only understand the class in intermediate level (Rate 3 out of 5) and upper-intermediate level (Rate 4 out of 5). With the Asian characteristic of not speaking up in classroom, the tutors often find it hard to gain a clear picture of the levels of English language ability and the understanding of students.(J. Bamford, 2008)
From the conclusion and interpretation of the questionnaires, it can be seen that the culture differences and a free and diverse environment are the key factors influencing the experience of international students in UK. It is widely accepted that cultural shock, as a cliché perspective when discussing cross-cultural learning experience, has no longer being considered as a significant factor, since most of the international students, are born after the recent millennium and is exposed to internet and various electronic devices, and they are more chances to travel around the world in their life and therefore, they do not have the allergic reaction to cultural differences compared with the past generation, where the life was still struggling. Thus, cultural shock is not the main factors affecting international students.
On the other hand, despite the fact that children have more access to internet and more chances to explore the world, they may not necessarily have the abilities to adjust social and cultural conditions while learning in the UK. They have to adjust to a totally different learning environment which was based on English. Without the background knowledge of political and economic issue in the UK, they may find themselves lonely and helpless especially when they have to hand in a research project or oral presentation that was unfamiliar to them since they have been educated in a different learning environment. It is also a challenge to adjust different study method and to cope with mounting pressure from multiple tasks and deadline. International students need to make quick transition in a limited amount of time to adjust themselves to learning environment where independent study and research are the norm.
Furthermore, without the support from their family and friend in their own country, they are more likely to become depressed, due to the fact that they didn’t have a lot of chances to experiences hardship from the past. It’s also hard for them to cope with numerous group work in their learning experience since cross-cultural communication can be even harder when students need to discuss academic content. Asian sometimes are afraid to speak out unless they are invited while students in England wouldn’t normally ask someone to address their opinion deliberately. Therefore, students may face huge stress as they don’t know how to perform intercultural communication which require training.(De Vita, G. 2001)
At last, this questionnaire also contains several limitations as it didn’t explore in-class performance and the participants’ languages abilities in depth since it would significantly affect the international’s experience and perception while studying in UK. Those who are capable of intercultural communication and have strong foundation in academic subject may find themselves easily coping with the lectures and assignments while others, who have just met the entry language requirement may find themselves hard to cope with the content of classroom. Therefore, lecturers must evaluate their students carefully and adjust the teaching content based on real circumstances.
Ellis Ormrod, J. (1999). Human learning, Third Edition. Upper Saddle River, NK: Prentice Hall, Inc. p. 3
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Ingham, M., 2021. Is the UK still top of the class when it comes to international education? – FE News. [online] FE News. Available at: https://www.fenews.co.uk/exclusive/is-the-uk-still-top-of-the-class-when-it-comes-to-international-education/ [Accessed: 14 February 2022].
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