Investigation of International Students’ Perception of ‘Community’ in a British Higher Education Institute


  • Kathrine Angela Jackson Keele University
  • Fay Harris Keele University
  • Russell Crawford Keele University



International, Higher Education, community, student perception


This paper investigates the perceptions of members of our international student community by giving them a voice and a platform to explore their feelings as part of a Higher Education institute in the UK and whether they consider that the university is a global environment. Our data is based on a series of structured interviews with twelve students from twelve different countries, inclusive of four postgraduate research students. Our findings reveal that our international students commonly feel part of multiple smaller communities but interestingly, they were less sure of their part within an institute-wide community. The postgraduate students’ perceptions of community were quite divergent when compared to the undergraduate perceptions, which we will continue to explore in our future work. Our data supports the perception from international students that their university is a global community, but there were distinct differences in how individuals defined it and some limitations to consider. Some defined it as students and staff of different nationalities being present at a university whilst other definitions relied on cultural characteristics within the institution as a whole. We reflect upon the implications of our research as these perceptions shape international student opinion of Higher Education institutes and what is understood by the term ‘global community’.

Author Biographies

Kathrine Angela Jackson, Keele University

Kathrine Jackson is currently the lead researcher on the ‘International Student Experience Research Project’ for Keele University Students’ Union and the Learning and Professional Development Centre at Keele. Her research background is in the humanities but she has also developed an interest in Education Studies.

Fay Harris, Keele University

Fay Harris is the Student Experience Manager for Keele University Students’ Union and has worked in student support for over ten years. She is responsible for the Student Activities and Volunteering department, Jobshop and ASK, the union’s impartial student advice service.

Russell Crawford, Keele University

Russell Crawford is a Teaching Fellow and Academic Developer, having joined Keele University in 2008. He is project lead on an educational resource project that provides free video learning objects to all students ( and managing editor of the Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE -


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