International student

China India Japan

Students of different ethnicities at a U.S. university.
International students in Liechtenstein

International students, or foreign students, are students who chose to undertake all or part of their tertiary education in a country other than their own and move to that country for the purpose of studying. In 2017, there were over 5.3 million international students, up from 2 million in 2000.[1] By 2017, the U.S, U.K., Canada and Australia received 40% of international students.[2] The U.S. counted 1.2 million in 2018.[3] Australia had nearly 1.3 million in 2017.[4] There were 642,480 in Canada in 2019[5] and there were 458,520 during the 2017/18 academic year in the United Kingdom.[6]

National definitions

The definition of "foreign student" and "international student" varies in each country in accordance to their own national education system.[7]

In the US International students are "Individuals studying in the United States on a non-immigrant, temporary visa that allows for academic study at the post- secondary level. Immigrants, permanent residents, citizens, resident aliens ("Green Card" holders), and refugees are excluded from this definition."

In Europe, students from countries who are a part of the European Union can take part in a student exchange program called Erasmus.[8][circular reference] The program allows for students from the EU to study in other countries under a government agreement.

Canada defines international students as "....temporary residents who have been approved by an immigration officer to study in Canada." The study permit identifies the level of study and the length of time the individual may study in Canada. International students do not need a study permit for courses of six months or less if they will finish the course within the period of stay authorized upon entry, which is usually six months.

In Australia an international student is "A student on a student visa studying in Australia with an institution registered to deliver courses to such students. Students from New Zealand are not included in the student enrolment counts as they do not require a student visa." and in Japan the definition is "A student from a foreign economy who is receiving an education at any Japanese university, graduate school, junior college, college of technology, professional training college or university preparatory course and who resides in Japan with a 'college student' visa status."[citation needed]

Destinations of foreign students

Students of different nationalities at an international school in Shanghai, China, 2017. The school does not have a school uniform.

Although the third largest destination country overall in light of its relatively small population and number of institutions relative to the United States, Australia has by far the highest ratio of international students per head of population in the world by a large margin, with international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities.[9][10].

The greatest percentage increases of numbers of foreign students have occurred in New Zealand, Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland.[11]

Traditionally the U.S and U.K have been the most prestigious choices, because of the presence of top 10 rankings Universities such as Harvard, Oxford, MIT and Cambridge. More recently however they have had to compete with the rapidly growing Asian higher education market, especially China. In the 2020 CWTS Leiden Ranking edition, China surpassed the U.S. with the number of universities including in the ranking for the first time (204 vs.198).[12] China is also home to the two best Asian universities with Tsinghua and Peking Universities, ranked at 20th and 23rd respectively in the world, according to the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[13] While US is the leading destination for foreign students, there is increasing competition from several destinations in East Asia such as China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan which are keen to attract foreign students for reputation and demographic reasons.[14]

Student mobility in the first decade of the 21st century has been transformed by two major external events, the attack on the New York Trade Centre and the recession of 2008.[15] The US to tightened visa requirements for students and Australia and the UK were successful in absorbing most of the growth in numbers of foreign students. In 2009, international students represented 21.5% and 15.3% of higher education enrollment in Australia and the UK, compared to less than 4% in the US, according to the OECD.[16]

According to OECD, almost one out of five foreign students is regionally mobile. This segment of regionally mobile students who seek global education at local cost is defined as "glocal" students]. Many "glocal" students consider pursuing transnational or cross-border education which allows them to earn a foreign credential while staying in their home countries.[17] With the increase in tuition cost in leading destinations like the US and the UK along with the higher immigration barriers, many international students are exploring alternative destinations and demanding more "value for money." Recalibrating value for money for international students It is projected that the number of internationally mobile students will reach 6.9 million by 2030, an increase of 51%, or 2.3 million students, from 2015.[18]

As of 2019, the top 10 countries for foreign student enrollment are as follows:[19]
Rank Destination country Foreign students (2019) Foreign students (2018) % change Top sending countries
1  United States 1,095,299 1,094,792 +0.05% China, India, South Korea
2  United Kingdom 496,570 506,480 −1.96% China, United States, India
3  China 492,185 489,200 +0.61% South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan
4  Canada 435,415 370,710 +17.45% India, China, France
5  Australia 420,501 371,885 +13.07% China, India, Nepal
6  France 343,400 343,386 0.00% Morocco, Algeria, China
7  Russia 334,497 313,089 +6.84% Kazakhstan, China, Turkmenistan
8  Germany 282,002 265,484 +6.22% China, India, Austria
9  Japan 208,901 188,384 +10.89% China, Vietnam, Nepal
10  Spain 120,991 109,522 +10.47% Italy, France, United States



Since 2005, China has become the most popular country in Asia after overtaking Japan and the sixth largest country in the world in hosting international students.[20] In 2016, China was the third largest receiver of international students globally, with 442,773 international students.[21] By 2018 this number had grown to 492,185 (10.49% growth from 2017).[22] In 2018, China is the most popular country in Asia for international students and the second most popular in the world.[23]

International Students in China (2003-2017)

The number of international students in China has grown steadily since 2003, with apparently no impact from the rise of terrorism or the 2008 global financial crisis. In contrast to the reported decline of enrollments in the USA[24] and the UK,[25] China's international student market continues to strengthen. China is now the leading destination globally for Anglophone African students.[26]

Number of international students in China (2016) by sending continent.
Yearly increase of international students coming to China by continent (2015-2016).

In 2016, the students coming to China were mostly from Asia (60%), followed by Europe (16%) and Africa (14%). However, Africa had the highest growth rate at 23.7% year-on-year 2015–2016.[27]

Top 15 Countries Sending International Students to China (2016)

The top 15 countries sending students to China in 2018 are listed below. African countries are grouped together and show a considerable block of students.[27][28][22]

Rank (2018) Country Number of Students (2018) Number of Students (2017) Percent of Total (2018) 2017 rank
- All African countries grouped together 81,562 61,594 16.57%
1  South Korea ** 50,600 70,540 10.28% 1
2  Thailand ** 28,608 23,044 5.81% 2
3  Pakistan ** 28,023 18,626 5.69% 3
4  India ** 23,192 18,717 4.71% 5
5  United States ** 20,996 23,838 4.27% 4
6  Russia ** 19,239 17,971 3.91% 6
7  Indonesia ** 15,050 14,714 3.06% 8
8  Laos ** 14,645 - 2.98% -
9  Japan ** 14,230 13,595 2.89% 7
10  Kazakhstan ** 11,784 13,996 2.39% 9
11  Vietnam ** 11,299 10,639 2.30%
12  Bangladesh ** 10,735 - 2.18% -
13  France ** 10,695 - 2.17% -
14  Mongolia ** 10,158 - 2.06% -
15  Malaysia ** 9,479 - 1.93% -
International Students in China by Province (2016)

In 2016, international students mostly went to study in the major centers of Beijing (77,234, 17.44%) and Shanghai (59,887, 13.53%). In recent years there has been a decentralization and dispersion of students to other provinces.

Various factors combine to make China a desirable destination for international students.

  1. China boasts a significant number of world-class universities.[29]
  2. Universities in China are attractive research centers.[30]
  3. It costs relatively less than studying in developed countries.[31]
  4. There is a huge diversity of universities and programs.[31]
  5. There are more career opportunities due to China's growing economic strength.[31]
  6. Many graduate and postgraduate programs are offered in English.
  7. A huge number of scholarships (49,022 in 2016) are on offer from the Chinese government.[27]

China is openly pursuing a policy of growing its soft power globally, by way of persuasion and attraction. Attracting international students, especially by way of scholarships, is one effective way of growing this influence.[32][33]


Japan is perceived as an evolving destination for international students. Japan has around 180,000 overseas students studying at its institutions and the government has set targets to increase this to 300,000 over the next few years.[34]

Malaysia, Singapore and India

Malaysia, Singapore and India are emerging destinations for international students. These three countries have combined share of approximately 12% of the global student market with somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000 students having decided to pursue higher education studies in these countries in 2005–2006.[35]

In 2019, India was hosting over 47,000 overseas students and aims to quadruple the number 200,000 students by 2023. India has most its international students and targets from South, Southeast, West Asia and Africa and is running various fee waiver and scholarship programs.[36][37]

The flow of international students above indicates the south–north phenomenon. In this sense, students from Asia prefer to pursue their study particularly in the United States.

The recent statistics on mobility of international students can be found in;

Australia and Oceania

Australia has the highest ratio of international students per head of population in the world by a large margin, with 812,000 international students enrolled in the nation's universities and vocational institutions in 2019.[41][42]. Accordingly, in 2019, international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities. International education therefore represents one of the country's largest exports and has a pronounced influcence on the country's demographics, with a significant proportion of international students remaining in Australia after graduation on various skill and employment visas.[43]

Top 15 countries and regions sending students to Australia in 2018 are listed below.[citation needed]

January - December 2018[citation needed]
Rank Country Number of Students per cent of Total
1  China 205,189 29.58%
2  India 89,570 12.91%
3    Nepal 43,021 6.20%
4  Brazil 26,620 3.84%
5  Malaysia 26,085 3.76%
6  Vietnam 24,131 3.48%
7  South Korea 21,799 3.14%
8  Thailand 18,014 2.60%
9  Colombia 16,942 2.44%
10  Indonesia 16,541 2.38%
11  Hong Kong 13,796 1.99%
12  Pakistan 13,656 1.97%
13  Taiwan 12,846 1.851%
14  Japan 12,804 1.845%
15  United States 11,468 1.65%
Total 552,482 79.636%
(total out of 693,750 students in Australia during January - December in 2018)


France and Germany

In 2016, France was the fourth largest receiver of international students globally, with 245,349 international students, while Germany was the fifth largest receiver, with 244,575 international students. In the winter semester 2017–18, Germany received 374,583 international students from overseas pursuing higher education and the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is 5.46%.[44][21]

With the Franco-German University, the two countries have established a framework for cooperation between their universities, enabling students to participate in specific Franco-German courses of study across borders.[45]

The top 10 countries sending students to France in 2016 are listed below.[21]

Rank Country Number of Students Percent of Total
1  Morocco 28,012 12.4%
2  China 23,378 10.4%
3  Algeria 17,008 7.5%
4  Tunisia 9,403 4.2%
5  Italy 8,535 3.8%
6  Senegal 7,428 3.3%
7  Germany 6,338 2.8%
8  Spain 5,143 2.3%
9  Ivory Coast 4,620 2.0%
10  Cameroon 4,550 2.0%

The top 10 countries sending students to Germany in 2015 are listed below.[21]

Rank Country Number of Students Percent of Total
1  China 23,616 12.2%
2  Russia 9,953 5.1%
3  India 9,896 5.1%
4  Austria 9,574 4.9%
5  France 6,955 3.6%
6  Cameroon 6,301 3.2%
7  Bulgaria 6,293 3.2%
8  Ukraine 5,850 3.0%
9  Italy 5,657 2.9%
10  Poland 5,508 2.8%

United Kingdom

North America


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reckons that as of December 2019, there were 642,480 international students which is a 13% increase from the previous year.[46] In 2019, 30% of the international students in Canada were from India and 25% were from China.[47] The newest Canadian government International Education Strategy (IES) for the period 2019-2024 includes a commitment to diversify inbound students and distribute them more equally across the country rather than having a strong concentration in a few cities.[48]

United States

Around 750,000 Chinese and 400,000 Indian students apply to overseas higher education institutions annually.[49][50] New enrollment of undergraduate and graduate foreign students at American universities and colleges for 2016-17 declined by 2.1% or nearly 5,000 students which translates into a potential revenue of US$125 million for the first year of studies alone.[51] Much of the increase in international students in the U.S. during 2013–2014 was fueled by undergraduate students from China. The number of Chinese students increased to 31 percent of all foreign students in the U.S., the highest concentration of any one country since the Institute of International Education began collecting data on international students in 1948.[52] This is changing quickly with demographic projections showing a large impending decrease in volumes of students from China and Russia and steady increases in students from India and Africa.

The number of foreign students in tertiary (university or college) education is also rapidly increasing as higher education becomes an increasingly global venture.[53] During 2014–15, 974,926 foreign students came to study in the U.S, which is almost double the population from 2005. For several decades Chinese students have been the largest demographic amongst foreign students. The top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total foreign student enrollment are: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Mexico. The total number of foreign students from all places of origin by field of study are: Business/Management, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical and Life Sciences, Humanities, Fine and Applied Arts, Health Professions, Education, and Agriculture.[54]

Top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total foreign student enrollment 2015-2016
Rank Place of origin Number of students Percent of total
1  China 328,547 31.5%
2  India 165,918 15.9%
3  Saudi Arabia 61,287 5.9%
4  South Korea 61,007 5.8%
5  Canada 26,973 2.6%
6  Vietnam 21,403 2.1%
7  Taiwan 21,127 2.0%
8  Brazil 19,370 1.9%
9  Japan 19,060 1.8%
10  Mexico 16,733 1.6%
Total number of foreign students from all places of origin by field of study 2015-2016
Rank Field of Study Number of Students Percent of Total
1 Business and Management 200,312 19.2%
2 Engineering 216,932 20.8%
3 Other/Unspecified Subject Areas 185,107 17.7%
4 Mathematics and Computer Sciences 141,651 13.6%
5 Social Sciences 81,304 7.8%
6 Physical and Life Sciences 75,385 7.2%
7 Humanities 17,664 1.7%
8 Fine and Applied Arts 59,736 5.7%
9 Health Professions 33,947 3.3%
10 Education 19,483 1.9%
11 Agriculture 12,318 1.2%

The number of US visas issued to Chinese students to study at US universities has increased by 30 per cent, from more than 98,000 in 2009 to nearly 128,000 in October 2010, placing China as the top country of origin for foreign students, according to the "2010 Open Doors Report" published on the US Embassy in China website. The number of Chinese students increased. Overall, the total number of foreign students with a US visa to study at colleges and universities increased by 3 per cent to a record high of nearly 691,000 in the 2009/2010 academic year. The 30 per cent increase in Chinese student enrolment was the main contributor to that year's growth, and now Chinese students account for more than 18 percent of the total foreign students.[55]


Prospective foreign students are usually required to sit for language tests, such as Cambridge English: First,[56] Cambridge English: Advanced,[57] Cambridge English: Proficiency,[58] IELTS,[59] TOEFL,[60] iTEP,[61] PTE Academic,[62] DELF[63] or DELE,[64] before they are admitted. Tests notwithstanding, while some international students already possess an excellent command of the local language upon arrival, some find their language ability, considered excellent domestically, inadequate for the purpose of understanding lectures, and/or of conveying oneself fluently in rapid conversations. A research report commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators investigated the scope of third-party providers offerings intensive English preparation programs with academic credit for international students in the United States.[65] These pathway programs are designed to recruit and support international students needing additional help with English and academic preparation before matriculating to a degree program.

Student visa

Generally, foreign students as citizens of other countries are required to obtain a student visa, which ascertains their legal status for staying in the second country.[66] In the United States, before students come to the country, the students must select a school to attend to qualify for a student visa. The course of study and the type of school a foreign student plans to attend determine whether an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa is needed. Each student visa applicant must prove they have the financial ability to pay for their tuition, books and living expenses while they study in the states.[67]

Economic impact

Research from the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) shows the economic benefits of the increasing international higher-education enrollment in the United States. According to their 2013–2014 academic year analysis, international students have contributed $26.8 billion to the U.S economy and 340,000 jobs. This represents almost a 12% increase in dollars added to the economy and an 8.5% increase associated with job support and creation compared to the previous year. International students contribute more than job and monetary gains to the economy. NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson has stated that "[international students] bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework".[68] According to NAFSA's research, their diverse views contribute to technological innovation has increased America's ability to compete in the global economy.

On the other hand, international students have faced suspicions of involvement in economic and industrial espionage.[69]

Higher education marketing

Marketing of higher education is a well-entrenched macro process today, especially in the major English-speaking nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. One of the major factors behind the worldwide evolution of educational marketing could be globalization, which has dramatically shrunken the world. Due to intensifying competition for overseas students amongst MESDCs, i.e. major English-speaking destination countries, higher educational institutions recognize the significance of marketing themselves, in the international arena.[70] To build sustainable international student recruitment strategies Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to diversify the markets from which they recruit, both to take advantage of future growth potential from emerging markets, and to reduce dependency on – and exposure to risk from – major markets such as China, India and Nigeria, where demand has proven to be volatile.[71] For recruitment strategies, there are some approaches that higher education institutions adopt to ensure stable enrollments of international students, such as developing university preparation programs, like the Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) Program, and launching international branch campuses in foreign countries.

Global Assessment Certificate (GAC) Program

The Global Assessment Certification (GAC) Program is a university preparation program, developed and provided by ACT Education Solution, Ltd., for the purpose of helping students to prepare for admission and enrollment overseas.[54] The program helps students from non-English speaking backgrounds to prepare for university-level study, so they are able to successfully finish a bachelor's degree at university. Students who complete the GAC program have the opportunity to be admitted to 120 so called Pathway Universities, located in destinations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.[72] Mainly, the program consists of curriculums, such as Academic English, Mathematics, Computing, Study Skills, Business, Science and Social Science. Moreover, the program also provides the opportunity to get prepared for the ACT exam and English Proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS.[73]

Foreign branch campuses

Opening international branch campuses is a new strategy for recruiting foreign students in other countries in order to build strong global outreach by overcoming the limitations of physical distance. Indeed, opening branch campuses plays a significant role of widening the landscape of the higher education. In the past, along with high demand for higher education, many universities in the United States established their branch campuses in foreign countries.[74] According to a report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), there was a 43% increase in the number of foreign branch campuses in the worldwide scale since 2006. American higher education institutions mostly take a dominant position in growth rate and the number of foreign branch campuses, accounting for almost 50 percent of current foreign branch campuses.[75] However, some research reports have recently said foreign branch campuses are facing several challenges and setbacks, for example interference of local government,[76] sustainability problems, and long-term prospects like damage on academic reputations and finance.

Challenges for foreign students in English-speaking countries

There is a trend for more and more students to go abroad to study in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia to gain a broader education.[citation needed] English is the only common language spoken at universities in these countries, with the most significant exception being Francophone universities in Canada. International students not only need to acquire good communication skills and fluent English both in writing and speaking, but also absorb the Western academic writing culture in style, structure, reference, and the local policy toward academic integrity in academic writing.[77] International students may have difficulty completing satisfactory assignments because of the difficulty with grammar and spelling, differences in culture, or a lack of confidence in English academic writing. Insightful opinions may lose the original meaning when transformed from the student's native language to English. Even if international students acquire good scores in English proficiency exams or are able to communicate with native students frequently in class, they often find that the wording and formatting of academic papers in English-speaking universities are different from what they are used to due to certain cultural abstractions. Students who experience this discrepancy get lower scores of adaptability to new environment and higher scores about anxiety. Instead of the mood, students who were further away from home would be more willing to go back home and regress from their aims in life; this hardship can lead to depression. Partly this is due to the academic contagions of the foreign university like not integrating contrastive rhetoric aspect, low-support for adaptation like providing opportunities to better their English in a non-competitive and meaningful way.[78]

Most foreign students encounter difficulties in language use. Such issues make it difficult for the student to make domestic friends and gain familiarity with the local culture. Sometimes, these language barriers can subject international students to ignorance or disrespect from native speakers.[79] Most international students are also lacking a support groups in the country where they are studying. Although all colleges in North America that are in student exchange programs do have an International Student Office, it sometimes does not have resources and capability to consider their students' individual needs when it comes to adapting to the new environment. The more a particular college has students coming from the same country the better the support is for getting involved in the new culture.[80]

Foreign students have several challenges in their academic studies at North American universities. Studies have shown that these challenges include several different factors: inadequate English proficiency; unfamiliarity with North American culture; lack of appropriate study skills or strategies; academic learning anxiety; low social self-efficacy; financial difficulties; and separation from family and friends.[81] Despite the general perception that American culture is characterized more by diversity than by homogeneity, the American ideology of cultural homogeneity has been alleged to imply an American mindset that because Eurocentric cultures are superior to others, people with different cultures should conform to the dominant monocultural canon and norms.[82]

U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where their higher-education system cannot meet the demand. 10 million students throughout China take the national college entrance test, competing for 5.7 million university slots. Because foreign undergraduates typically fail to qualify for U.S. federal aid, colleges can provide only limited financial help. Now, thanks to China's booming economy in recent years, more Chinese families can afford to pay. U.S. colleges also face challenges abroad. Worries about fraud on test scores and transcripts make occasional headlines. And even Chinese students who test high on an English-language proficiency test may not be able to speak or write well enough to stay up to speed in a U.S. classroom, where essay writing and discussions are common.[83] Chinese international students face other challenges besides language proficiency. The Chinese educational structure focuses on exam-oriented education, with educational thinking and activities aimed towards meeting the entrance examination. Students become more stressed on exam performance, and teachers are inclined to focus on lecturing to teach students what may be on the test. In addition, "parents are also convinced that the more students listened to the lectures, the better they would score on the finals."[84] With more than 304,040 Chinese students enrolled in the US in 2014/15, China is by far the leading source of international students at American universities and colleges; however, there are three waves of growth in Chinese students in the US. Each of the three waves differs in terms of needs and expectations and corresponding support services needed. Unfortunately, many higher education institutions have not adapted to the changing needs.[85] It is no surprise that many Chinese students are now questioning if it is worth investing in studying abroad.[86]

International students[87] also face cross-cultural barriers that hinder their ability to succeed in a new environment.[88] For example, there are differences in terms of receiving and giving feedback, which influences academic engagement and even the job and internship search approach of international students.[89]

Plagiarism is the most serious offense in academia.[90] Plagiarism has two subtle forms, one of which includes the omission of elements required for proper citations and references.[91] The second form is unacknowledged use or incorporation of another person's work or achievement. Violation of either form can result in a student's expulsion. For the international students the word plagiarism is a foreign word.[92] Most of them are unfamiliar with American academic standards and colleges are not good about giving a clear definition of the word's meaning. For example, many international students don't know using even one sentence of someone else's work can be considered plagiarism. Most colleges give students an E on their plagiarized assignments and future offenses often result in failing class or being kicked out of university.

Mental wellness

International students studying in a foreign country face a life altering event which can cause distress that can potentially affect their mental wellness.[93] Many students report homesickness and loneliness in their initial transition, experience isolation from peers and struggle with understanding cultural differences while staying abroad.[94] In certain cultures, mental illness is seen as a sign of weakness. Because of this, international students believe they can prevail through their struggles alone without help, which can lead to a decrease in mental wellness.[93]

There are two common symptoms among international students from China in particular: 45 percent of the students faced depression and 29 percent of the students faced anxiety.[95] Stressors that lead international students to struggle with anxiety are rooted in numerous causes, including academic pressures, financial issues, adapting to a new culture, creating friendships, and feelings of loneliness.[96] International students are also more likely to rely on peers for support through their transition than teachers or adult peers.[97] If the student is unable to make friends in their new environment, they will struggle more with their transition than an international student who has established relationships with their peers.[98]

Language and communication barriers have been noted to add to student anxiety and stress.[99] International students face language discrimination, which may exacerbate mental health symptoms.[98] Evidence has not conclusively shown that language discrimination is a greater risk factor than discrimination against foreigners.[98] However, there has not been any conclusive evidence to show whether language discrimination plays a significantly larger role than simple foreigner discrimination.[100]

Since international students are less likely to use individual counseling provided by the university.[101] and may experience even more intense stigmas against seeking professional help,[102] group-oriented ways of reaching students may be more helpful.[103] Group activities, like collaborative workshops and cultural exchange groups, can introduce a sense of community among the students.[104] In addition, efforts can be placed to improve awareness and accessibility to mental wellness resources and counseling services.[105] Social workers, faculty, and academic staff can be educated beforehand to provide an adequate support for them.[106]

Study abroad

Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a country other than one's own.[107] This can include primary, secondary and post-secondary students. A 2012 study showed number of students studying abroad represents about 9.4% of all students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States[108][109] and it is a part of experience economy.[110][111]

Studying abroad is a valuable program for international students as it is intended to increase the students' knowledge and understanding of other cultures. International education not only helps students with their language and communicating skills, but also encourages students to develop a different perspective and cross-cultural understanding of their studies which will further their education and benefit them in their career.[112][113] The main factors that determine the outcome quality of international studies are transaction dynamics (between the environmental conditions and the international student), quality of environment, and the student's coping behavior.

Distinctions in classroom culture

Certain distinctions and differences can become sources of culture shock and cultural misunderstandings that can lead a student to inhibit adaptation and adjustment. For example, a key requirement in many foreign institutions is participation. Failure to participate in the classroom with faculty can be a serious obstacle to academic success and if it is coupled with the view that professors are to be held in awe, then the problem can be reflected in the grades given for class participation. Lack of participation can be interpreted by faculty as failure to learn the course content or disinterest in the topic. This is important since western education mostly requires students to go through double loop of learning where they have to re-frame their dispositions and form a framework of inner agency through reflective actions and practices with the guidance or learning experience obtained through the tutor for responding to professional situations or in complex situations (ambiguous and non-standardized situations), to be equipped with the right set of frameworks and skills for effective professional action.[114]

Some of the identified distinctions are:[115]

A key factor in international academic success is learning approaches that can be taken on a matter from one another and simultaneously assimilating inter-cultural experiences.

Titles and roles in administrative structure



Accommodation is a major factor that determines study abroad experience.[120][121]

Host family

A host family volunteers to house a student during their program. The family receives payment for hosting. Students are responsible for their own spending, including school fees, uniform, text books, internet, and phone calls. Host families could be family units with or without children or retired couples; most programs require one host to be at least 25 years of age. The host families are well prepared to experience a new culture and give a new cultural experience to the student. A student could live with more than one family during their international study program to expand their knowledge and experience more of the new culture. Host families are responsible for providing a room, meals, and a stable family environment for the student. Most international student advisory's allow for a switch of hosts if problems arise.


An international student involved in study abroad program can choose to live on campus or off campus. Living off campus is a popular choice, because students are more independent and learn more about the new culture when they are on their own. Universities that host international students will offer assistance in obtaining accommodation. Universities in Asia have on-campus housing for international students on exchange or studying full-time. Temporary options include hostels, hotels, or renting. Homestays, paid accommodation with a host family, are available in some countries.

Coping in study abroad

The w-curve adjustment model

The w-curve model created by Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963) is W shaped model that attempts to give a visual description of a travelers possible experience of culture shock when entering a new culture and the re-entry shock experienced when returning home. The model has seven stages.

  1. Honeymoon Stage
  2. Hostility Stage
  3. Humorous/Rebounding Stage
  4. In-Sync Stage
  5. Ambivalence Stage
  6. Re-Entry Culture Shock Stage
  7. Re-Socialization Stage

Each stage of the model aims to prepare travellers for the rollercoaster of emotions that they may experience both while returning and traveling from a trip abroad. The hope in the creation of this model is to help prepare travelers for the negative feelings often associated with living in another culture. By doing so, it is the goal that these emotions will be better dealt with.[122]

Positive affectivity

Affectivity is an emotional disposition: people who are high on positive affectivity experience positive emotions and moods like joy and excitement, and view the world, including themselves and other people, in a positive light. They tend to be cheerful, enthusiastic, lively, sociable, and energetic. Research has found that students studying abroad with a positive emotional tendency have higher satisfaction and interaction with the environment; they engage in the staying country's citizenship behaviours.[123][124]

See also



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