International student

International students in Liechtenstein

International students are those who travel to a country different from their own for the purpose of tertiary study.[1]

National definitions

The definition of "international student" varies in each country in accordance to their own national education system.[2]

In Australia, international students are defined as those studying onshore only with visa subclasses 570 to 575, excluding students on Australian-funded scholarships or sponsorship or students undertaking study while in possession of other temporary visas.[3] New Zealand citizens do not require a visa to study in Australia, so are not classed as international students.

In Japan, international students are defined as foreign nationals who study at any Japanese university, graduate school, junior college, college of technology, professional training college or university preparatory course on a ‘college student’ visa, as defined by the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.[3]

International Students in the United States

Annually around 750,000 Chinese and 400,000 Indian students apply to overseas higher education institutions,[4][5] This mobility is largely driven by rapidly increasing wealth which funds foreign travel and study. Much of the increase in international students in the U.S. during 2013–2014 was fueled by undergraduate students from China, the report's authors found. The number of Chinese students increased to 31 percent of all international students in the U.S. – the highest concentration the top country of origin has had since IIE began producing the report in 1948. This is changing quickly with demographic projections showing a large impending decrease in volumes of international students from China and Russia and steady increases in international students from India and Africa. The number of international students in tertiary (university or college) education is also rapidly increasing as higher education becomes an increasingly global venture.[6] During 2014-15, 974,926 international students came to study in the U.S, which is almost double the population from 2005. Chinese students have always been the largest demographic amongst international students. The top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total international student enrollment are: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Mexico. The total number of international 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.[7]

Top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total international student enrollment 2014-2015
Rank Place of Origin Number of Students Percent of Total
1 China 304,040 31.2%
2 India 132,888 13.6%
3 South Korea 63,710 6.5%
4 Saudi Arabia 59,945 6.1%
5 Canada 27,240 2.8%
6 Brazil 23,675 2.4%
7 Taiwan 20,993 2.2%
8 Japan 19,064 2.0%
9 Vietnam 18,722 1.9%
10 Mexico 17,052 1.7%
Total number of international students from all places of origin by field of study 2014-2015
Rank Field of Study Number of Students Percent of Total
1 Business and Management 197,258 20.2%
2 Engineering 196,750 20.2%
3 Other/Unspecified Subject Areas 131,332 13.5%
4 Mathematics and Computer Sciences 112,950 11.6%
5 Social Sciences 75,951 7.8%
6 Physical and Life Sciences 73,838 7.6%
7 Humanities 66,737 6.8%
8 Fine and Applied Arts 56,758 5.8%
9 Health Professions 33,399 3.4%
10 Education 17,675 1.8%
11 Agriculture 12,278 1.3%

Higher education marketing

Marketing of higher education is a well-entrenched macro process today, especially in the major English-speaking nations i.e. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. One of the major factors behind the worldwide evolution of educational marketing could be a result of globalization, which has dramatically shriveled 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.[8] 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.[9] 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 enrolment overseas.[7] Moreover, 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. This program is primarily getting great attention from non-English-speaking countries like China and South Korea. Students who complete the GAC program have the opportunity to be admitted to 120 universities, so called Pathway Universities, located in popular destinations including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.[10] Mainly, the program consists of curriculums, such as Academic English, Mathematics, Computing, Study Skills, Business, Science and Social Science.Moreover, program also provides the opportunity to get prepared for the ACT exam and English Proficiency tests like TOEFL and IELTS.[11]

International branch campuses

International branch campus is a new strategy of recruiting international students in overseas countries in order to build strong global outreach by overcoming the limitations of physical distance. Indeed, opening international branch campuses play a significant role of widening the landscape of the international 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.[12] According to a report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE), there was a 43% increase in the number of international branch campuses in the worldwide scale since 2006. American higher education institutions mostly take a dominant position in growth rate and the number of international branch campuses, accounting for almost 50 percent of current international branch campuses.[13] However, some research reports that recently said internationally branching campuses are facing several challenges and setbacks, for example interference of local government,[14] sustainability problems, and long-term prospects like damage on academic reputations and finance.


Prospective international students are usually required to sit for language tests, such as Cambridge English: First,[15] Cambridge English: Advanced,[16] Cambridge English: Proficiency,[17] IELTS,[18] TOEFL,[19] iTEP,[20] PTE Academic,[21] DELF[22] or DELE,[23] 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.

Student Visa

Generally, international students as citizens of other foreign countries are required to obtain a student visa, which ascertains their legal status for staying in the second country.[24] In the United States, before international 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 an international 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.[25]

Destinations of international students

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in their 2009 World Conference on Higher Education report, Over 2.5 million students were studying outside their home country. UNESCO also predicted that the number of international students might rise approximately to 7 million by the year 2020. The main destinations preferred by international students are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada and Australia. Overall, the number of international students more than doubled to over 2 million between 2000 and 2007.[26]
However the sharpest percentage increases of international students have occurred in New Zealand, Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland.[26]

In recent years, some Asian and Middle East countries have started to attract more international students. These regions have entered the market with declared ambitions to become regional education centers by attracting as many as several hundred thousand international students to their countries.[3]

Popular destinations

The UK, US, France, Australia and Germany[27] are currently the most popular destinations for international students. The US is the undisputed leader with approximately 723,277 foreign enrollments in 2010-11,[28] Traditionally the U.S and U.K have been the most prestigious choices, due to dominating university top 10 rankings with the likes of Harvard, Oxford, MIT and Cambridge. More recently however they have had to compete with the rapidly growing Asian higher education market.

International student mobility in the first decade of the 21st century has been transformed by two major external events, 9/11 and the recession of 2008.[29] 9/11 forced US to tighten visa requirements for students and Australia and the UK cashed in on this opportunity and were successful in absorbing most of the growth in international students. The growth story for Australia and the UK would have continued, but the recession of 2008 exposed two aspects of international student enrollment in these countries—unmanageable high proportion of international students compared to home students and issues of quality raised by the use of aggressive recruitment practices.[30] 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.[31]

According to OECD, almost one out of five international 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 pursing transnational or cross-border education which allows them to earn a foreign credential while staying in their home country.[32]

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 international 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 international 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 this year's growth, and now Chinese students account for more than 18 percent of the total international students.[33]

U.S. colleges and universities have long welcomed students from China, where their higher-education system cannot meet the demand. Three years ago, a record 10 million students throughout China took 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 here can provide 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.[34]

Germany and France

In 2006, with approximately 20% of world's foreign students, or 515,000 out of the 2.7 million students studying outside their countries, Germany and France are best understood as secondary higher education destinations.[3]

Japan, Canada and New Zealand

Japan, Canada and New Zealand are perceived as evolving destinations for international students. In 2006, Japan, Canada and New Zealand together shared roughly 13% of the international student market, with approximately 327,000 of the 2.7 million students who traveled abroad for the purposes of higher education.[3] 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.[35] Canada has seen a large increase in the number of Indian students, where the number of Indian students rose 280% in 2010 compared to 2008.[36] Organizations such as Learnhub are taking advantage of this growing trend of Indian international students by providing recruitment services that bring Indian students abroad.[37] In 2012, Canada accepted more than 100,000 international students for the first time,[38] bringing the total number of international students in Canada to 260,000,[39] which is nearly identical to that of Australia's 280,000. Recent changes to Canada's immigration regulations that came into effect on January 1, 2015 have placed international graduates from Canadian universities at a disadvantage. Under the new rules, foreign students who hold a degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions will be treated on par with other groups of skilled workers.[40]

Malaysia, Singapore and India

Malaysia, Singapore and India are the 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.[3]

In 2013, India has become the most popular destination in Asia for international students, and ranks third overall among countries.[41][42]

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;

The challenges for international 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. English is the only common language spoken at universities in these countries. 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.[46] 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 British 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.[47]

Most international 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.[48] Most international students are also lacking a support groups in the country they are studying. Although all the colleges in North America, that are in a student exchange programs, do have International Student Office, it sometimes does not have resources and capability to consider their students' individual needs when it comes to adapting the new environment. The more a particular college has students coming from the same country the better the support is for getting involved to the new culture.

International 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.[49] Despite the general perception that American culture is characterized more by diversity than by homogeneity, the American ideology of cultural homogeneity implies an American mindset that because Eurocentric cultures are superior to others, people with different cultures should conform to the dominant monocultural canon and norms.[50]

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 stress more 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."[51] Though the Western educational system also features exams, standardized testing, and lectures, the Chinese exam system leads students and teachers to ignore the importance of practical activities, such as group work, because these skills will not be tested on the exams. When Chinese students first come to the U.S, the emphasis on group work in the U.S educational system causes new difficulties. These students often show passivity attitude towards group projects. This is simultaneously aggravated by varying degrees of English proficiency.

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.[52] It is no surprise that many Chinese students are now questioning if it is worth investing in studying abroad.[53]

International students also face cross-cultural barriers that hinder their ability to succeed in a new environment.[54] For example, there are differences in terms of receiving and giving feedback which influences the academic engagement and even job and internship search approach of international students.[55]

The challenges that come from studying abroad in a foreign-speaking country incentivize students to plagiarize and cheat their way to success. The stress of the high expectations, and the difficulty of comprehension leads many students to be dishonest about their work. Cheating is one of the major problems that international students are facing in the United States especially. This problem is more common among Chinese students in particular. The exam-oriented education of the Chinese system leads them to be more focused on grades than on learning. Being that the proportion of Chinese students compared to other international students is larger, their cheating and plagiarism plays a major role among the whole of international students.

Cheating problems from international students

Cheating is a serious ethical problem and causes huge damages to the American education system. A high profit underground industry has sprung up to help students finish online course work, write essays, and take exams. These cheating problems involving Chinese students can be found in greater detail in the following two articles: 1.How an industry helps Chinese students cheat their way into and through U.S. Colleges[56] 2.How Sophisticated Test Scams from China Are Making Their Way into the U.S.[57]

Plagiarism problems from International students

Plagiarism is the most serious offense in academia.[58] Plagiarism has two subtle forms, one of which includes the omission of elements required for proper citations and references.[59] 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.[60] Most of them are unfamiliar with American academic standards and colleges aren’t 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.

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 is 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, "[international students] bring global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and support U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework."[61] According to NAFSA's research, their diverse views contribute to technological innovation has increased America's ability to compete in the global economy.

See also



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Further reading

External links

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