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