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Living up to expectations: A survey of international students concerns and their perceptions of change on a UK departmental presessional programme Judith.

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Presentation on theme: "Living up to expectations: A survey of international students concerns and their perceptions of change on a UK departmental presessional programme Judith."— Presentation transcript:

1 Living up to expectations: A survey of international students concerns and their perceptions of change on a UK departmental presessional programme Judith Lamie & Stephen Issitt University of Birmingham

2 Our universities and colleges are second to none. Their world-class reputation means that they are among the most popular for international students. I am determined to build on this great strength with a long-term strategy to attract many more. The institutions, their students and our economy will reap considerable rewards. (Blair, 1999)

3 Outline Introduction Background Methodology Data and analysis Demographics Reasons for study Expectations and concerns Changes in attitudes and practice Recommendations Conclusion

4 Introduction There has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the numbers of international students undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate study in the United Kingdom. This has been as a direct result of the huge influx of mainly postgraduates from the Far East, and in particular from China. This presentation introduces the expectations of students on a university presessional course and investigates the multidimensional student experience during this period. It is intended to address a knowledge gap between our expectations as course providers and the students realities, both anticipated and actual.

5 Introduction Background: Educational context The presessional programme Research focus and methodology Questionnaires 1 and 2 Q1: 250 students [85% 2003 intake] Q2: 110 matched responses Data and analysis Implications and recommendations Conclusion

6 Background Over 300,000 international students at UK colleges and universities (2003) Influx of students from the Far East China is in a phase of industrial, scientific and commercial expansion which will make it the worlds largest economy by the early years of the next century. In order to function efficiently in this role, it needs to bring large numbers of its people to high levels of proficiency in the use of English for a wide variety of functions. (Maley, 1995: 47) Country% change over 1 year Spain-25% Germany-17% France-13% Japan+5% China+92% (UKCOSA, 2003) Different cultural backgrounds Different expectations of the teaching and learning process implications for provision

7 Most recent figures- number of International students in UK Higher Education By domicile (countries in which students made their applications) (2007/8) UK 341,795 By passport (includes boarding school and foundation course applications) (2007/8) UK 513,570 USA 623,805 (Higher Education Statistics Agency)

8 Top non EU sending countries (2007/8) China 45,355 India 25,905 USA 13,905 Nigeria 11,785 Malaysia 11,730 Hong Kong 9,700 Pakistan 9,305 Taiwan 5,615 Canada 5,005 Japan 4,465

9 Top EU sending countries (2007/8) Republic of Ireland 15,260 Germany 13,625 France 12,685 Greece 12,625 Cyprus 9,640 Poland 8,570 Spain 5,740 Italy 5,605 Sweden 3,195 Netherlands 3,025

10 Most popular subjects UK 2008 and percentage international Business and administrative studies 90, 765 (29%) Engineering and technology 42,515 (30%) Social studies 29, 230 (15%) Languages 20,845 (15%) Medicine related 19,845 (7%) Computer science 19,495 (20%

11 International students and postgraduate courses Business and administration 80%+ of postgraduates are international Social sciences 70%+ Biological sciences 70%+

12 Largest recruiters of international students University of Manchester 8,380 (22%) University of Nottingham 7,485 (24%) UCL 6,840 (33%) University of Warwick 6,800 (24%) University of Oxford 6,425 (27%) London Metropolitan 6,370 (23%) London School of Economics 6,170 (68%) University of Birmingham 5,125 (18%) (number 16)

13 English for International Students Unit [EISU] University of Birmingham students , ,125 EISU 1964: included a four-day induction course; two-week pressessional; insessional programme 1990: 10 and 6 week presessionals: 81 students – Indonesia (12), Pakistan (10), Turkey (6), China (0) 2003: 20, 15, 10 and 6 week Business and Management presessionals; 20, 15, 10 and 6 week EAP presessionals: 304 students – 84% from the Far East (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia etc) 2009, 20,15,10, 6 EAP and BME % from Far East

14 Methodology Questionnaires _____________________________________________________ Sample size 95% confidence range _____________________________________________________ 100+/- 10% 250+/- 6% 1000+/- 3% _____________________________________________________ Procedure 1. Define objectives: 2. Select sample: presessional students Construct questionnaire(s) 4. Pretest: international students Amend 6. Administer: lecture hall 7. Analyse results

15 Questionnaires Objectives : Establish the current student profile Discover the reasons why the students had come to study in the UK Determine the expectations and concerns of the students with regard to living and studying at Birmingham (Q1) and ascertain how far these had been realistic (Q2) Explore the students notions of, and attitudes to, change Q1: A. General Information B. Reasons for Study and Expectations C. Changes in Attitudes and Practice Q2: A. Expectations and Concerns B. Changes in Attitudes and Practice

16 General Information 256 Q1 [85%] 110 Q2 12/5 (under 20) 203/91 ( years) 38/14 (31-40 years) 3 (over 40 years) 128/58 female 128/52 male

17 General Information


19 Reasons for Study Reasons for coming to Birmingham Reputation (149) Recommendation (18) Course (56) English language development (21) Birmingham city (18) There are a lot of good universities in England, Birmingham is one of them (#48) Birmingham is one of the famous universities in the world and it has a warm welcome for international students (#100)

20 Reasons for Study Reasons for choosing course Career development (130) Interest (76) I am interested in this course. It is useful for the future (#30) The course is very good for my career path (#25) I believe MSc in Marketing fits my academic needs in an excellent way. I am very interested in the subject. I expect to be able to learn not only from lectures, but also from my classmates and my experience in the UK generally (#66)

21 Expectations & concerns In 2003 the British Council advised that: Major new developments in course delivery methods and the UKs marketing approach must take place to cope with the number of students and their changing demands. (British Council, 2003: 1) The British Council specifically referred to the need to manage student expectations (5). Two sides of the same coin concerns = negative expectations How to be familiar with living and studying customs in the UK (#41) I care about my future study (#59)

22 Expectations & concerns

23 Im a board member so I need to up date my knowledge of business in this rapidly changing world (#67) I will get more information, learn as much as I can take, and I would bring it to my country and use it to have a better life (#76) To be able to speak English as a native speaker (#80) To communicate with people from various countries (#61) How I can have more chances to speak with native speakers (#119)

24 Expectations & concerns

25 My main concern is that I am unable to get used to the British food (#127) Im concerned about my accommodation (#25) I worry about safety (#101) There are many Chinese speakers so Im afraid that I cant improve my English (#183) Everything is so expensive compared to China (#145)

26 Expectations & concerns Did the course satisfy your expectations? Yes - 79% Yes/No – 12% No – 6% It helped me to enhance my English ability as expected (#41) Its completely different. I thought the course focused on language but it was for academic skills, which is where I really need to improve myself, so it helped me a lot (#99) You gave me a precious memory (#124) I wanted to learn to write academic essays more (#216) I thought the 10-week course was not interactive (#222) Too many contents were writing (#116)

27 Expectations & concerns Were the concerns you had at the start of the course accurate? Yes – 63% Yes/No – 9% No – 19% Accommodation; computer difficulties; banking; homesickness; communicating with native speakers I had to go to housing services several times to check my accommodation (#40) Living in the University accommodation was a problem (#232) Computer problems seem to happen quite frequently in the university (#6) Apart from class, many people tended to use their own language, nasty (#165) Sometimes I cant understand what people say off campus (#246)

28 Changes in attitudes and practice In what ways do you think youll change living and studying in the UK? Personal: acclimatisation, adaptation to a new environment (#26), living conditions, food, attitudes to British way of life, more independent, confident, flexible and open- minded Professional: attitudes towards types of learning, ELT methodologies and materials Get used to life in the UK (#14) Adapt to habits in terms of eating and communication (#50) The way of thinking and learning habits (#11)

29 Changes in attitudes and practice Changes in attitudes towards the British people and culture, other nationalities and aspects of language teaching and learning This course changed my mind about English teaching (#4) I have changed the way I think about other foreign students (#226) I think I have become more flexible to change (#232)

30 Changes in attitudes and practice Changes in practice centred on learning styles, study methods and living conditions I was not used to talking and exchanging my opinions during class, but now I can do that quite freely (#12) I am more comfortable writing essays and arranging my time (#22) At the beginning I have no confidence about my study. After the course I believe I can do better and better in my future (#17)

31 Recommendations Affirm the status of the UK as a tolerant and relatively safe place for international students to live and study, but also give students a realistic and practical assessment of possible difficulties and risks. Be sensitive to the importance that students place on housing and accommodation, especially in the early weeks of arrival. Be aware of the need to provide computer access and sound IT facilities, particularly in the first few weeks of the programme. Liaise closely with the range of support services available across the university with an emphasis on the help available to international students. Develop an effective relationship with banking and other financial service providers, especially those on campus, to ensure that students can open accounts as early as possible.

32 Recommendations Inform the students of the availability of East Asian food and suggest to campus-based retail outlets that they stock a wider variety of groceries from the Far East Promote contact with native speakers of English, either from the university or from the local environment. Encourage student engagement with the host social environment and provide opportunities for cultural acclimatisation either within the academic programme, or as an add-on component. Be aware of the changing nature of the international student profile and undertake regular monitoring and fine tuning of course content Be sensitive to changing student expectations and maintain a strong determination to provide a high quality level of service.

33 Conclusion Ballard and Clanchy (1997: viii) state: Many of the difficulties international students experience in their study derive not from poor English (though lack of language competence is in many cases a real problem), but from a clash of educational cultures. In seeking to promote a better understanding of the expectations and concerns of international students embarking upon study at a UK university, this research has tended to emphasise the non- academic aspects of the student experience. In drawing attention to the students resilience as they embark upon what must seem to be a fairly daunting challenge, the study highlights those areas, which may be in need of attention, by us as course designers and by our parent institutions. From the perspective of international students, who are rational, intelligent and sensitive to the fact they are studying in another academic culture, it might be more accurate to refer to a difference of priorities. The vast majority of international postgraduates and undergraduates, complete their courses and return to their countries of origin with higher qualifications from UK universities. It is not necessary to view the students solely as customers, but if UK higher educational institutions are sensitive to the needs of their students, then they will be in a better position to provide a context for rewarding experiences. This will be of benefit to us all.

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