Australia is often characterised and defined by other countries as a multicultural society, does this ideology however stretch to include international students planning to gain an education in our country? Overall international education is Australia’s third/fourth largest export industry, meaning that international education is a very profitable business.
Marginson suggests that ‘international education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be’ (Marginson 2012, p.1). Yes, international students do seem to ‘dominate’ the university scene, which allows for a lot of cross-cultural experiences but does this in turn lead to a cultural acceptance? International students do seem to hit a lot of walls when it comes to integrating into the university scene as well as gaining acceptance into society as a whole. Barriers for international students would include the obvious differences that include culture, lifestyle and language.
Cultural and lifestyle differences would create a cultural barrier when it came to international students integrating into Australian society and in turn the university scene. “Some students state that it was hard to meet Australians because of the pub and club culture of many Australians . . . There are two groups of international students: Those who cannot go to pubs and drink because they cant afford to and those who cannot drink alcohol for cultural and religious reasons” (Kell, P & Vogle, G. 2007, p.6). So these groups of international students would find it difficult to meet other Australians and in turn make friends. It is also suggested that many Australians who come into contact with these international student don’t want to participate in conversation or get to know them. This could be because of stereotypes that could have been placed on that particular student, or they couldn’t be bothered or are too busy to strike up a relationship.
Language is yet another factor that would create a huge barrier for international students. It is said that the informal and abbreviated nature of Australian English is seen as a form of resistance to the domination of the English colonial masters (Kell, P & Vogle, G. 2007, p.2). It is because of this unusual English many international students find it difficult to follow what is being said. It can be seen in the research that was funded by the Global Development Network of the World Bank that students had to establish common ground by immersing themselves into mainstream media and TV and take risks in order to break the ice and initiate conversations. In doing this it could be suggested that international student would loose their original cultural identity and self-determination as they attempt to integrate into an Australian society.
International students have a great opportunity to enrich not only their lives but also all of those who come into contact with them. However it can be difficult for international students to integrate into other foreign societies if the cultural background differs immensely to their own. I believe having international students in our universities helps students engage with different cultures as well as belief systems that in turn would lead to acceptance of other cultures and ideologies.
- Kell, P and Vogl, G (2007) ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, xEveryday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings,Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006. Available online at: https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/455993/mod_resource/content/1/Week%203_Kell%20and%20Vogl.pdf
- Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at: http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents/doc/uow119828.pdf