The international student experience as a concept is growing fast and gaining in importance for higher education educators. Universities around the world offer a wide range of support services to satisfy the needs of students.
Are universities aware of international students’ perceptions and needs?
A comprehensive study taking into account the views of around 60,000 international students on this topic, titled “International Students’ Perceptions of Their Needs When Going Abroad: Services on demand“, was published in August in the Journal of Studies in International Education.
International students’ comments after they have spent time abroad show that their primary concern when they go abroad is quality. Next comes topics related to living expenses, such as food and accommodation. They underrate other costs associated with their experience abroad, such as transport, medical costs and insurance and academic expenses.
International students also comment on issues related to teaching and academics. After this comes financials. This involves living expenses issues, but also relates to macroeconomic issues. The fifth most popular topic relates to what the city in which the university is located offers. Students focus on the people they encounter in the city and on the variety of choice that a large, diverse town with a full cultural agenda can offer.
There are three important steps universities can take:
- Assess their international students’ needs,
- Include all stakeholders of higher education institutions in the internationalisation process,
- Implement organisation- and programme-based strategies to meet their needs.
Institutions that are able to identify their international students’ needs will provide them with a better service.