Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

A Typology of International Student Community Engagement

Academic journal article e-Journal of Business Education and Scholarship Teaching

A Typology of International Student Community Engagement

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper presents an empirical study undertaken to develop a typology of international student community engagement activities that incorporates the perceptions of three key stakeholder groups--the international students, the community and the university. Framed by the notion of value co-creation, our exploratory study was undertaken at a rapidly growing, regional Australian university. Qualitative data was collected via interviews with community members (n = 5) and university staff members (n = 4) and focus groups with international students (N = 22). Our resulting typology comprises three clusters of engagement activity--highly unstructured, semi-structured and highly structured--with two engagement types in each cluster. Thus, the six major types of international student university-community engagement activities are: spontaneous occurrences and daily interactions (highly unstructured), informal social gatherings and casual employment (semi-structured) and formal social organisation participation and professional work experience (highly structured). Our typology offers a useful platform for strategic endeavours related to international student university-community engagement.

Keywords: community engagement; international education; international students; typology; university engagement; value co-creation

Background

International education is Australia's third largest export industry, valued at $18 billion (Connelly, 2012; Knight, 2011), contributing substantially to national, state and local economies (Ernst & Young, 2012). Today, there is unprecedented demand for international university education driven predominantly by the increased global mobility of students (Hemsley-Brown, 2012; Knight, 2004; Leask, 2004) and aggressive student recruitment strategies of universities around the world (Findlay, King, Smith, Geddes and Skeldon, 2012; Hemsley-Brown and Oplatka, 2006; Marginsion, 2004, 2006). As such, universities are interested in strategies that focus on enhancing the total international student experience (IDP Education, 2011; Mazzarol and Soutar, 2002; Woodall, Hiller and Resnick, 2012). Despite this interest, there is an absence of an organising framework depicting the various types of university-community engagement experiences that are of value to international students.

The benefits of university-community engagement feature in the strategic agendas of universities around the globe (Boyer, 1996; Cuthill and Brown, 2010; Muirhead and Woolcock, 2008). However, the extant literature reveals that the activities which comprise university-community engagement, and thus inform universities performance indicators, are wide and varied and often only considered from the universities' perspective (Bruning, McGrew and Cooper, 2006; Dempsey, 2010; Bringle and Hatcher, 2002), largely omitting the view of students and the community. Furthermore, there is scant literature which specifically focuses on international student university-community engagement.

While the importance of international student engagement is known to universities (Brydon and Liddell, 2012; Burdett and Crossman, 2012; Leask and Carroll, 2011), the majority of the literature is focused on on-campus engagement (e.g. AUSSE, 2010, 2008) rather than off-campus engagement within the community. Despite the notion that international students are seeking opportunities to engage with the local community of their host institution while abroad (Brydon and Liddell, 2012; Marginson, Nyland, Sawir and Forbes-Mewett 2010; Murray, Hall, Leask, Marginson and Ziguras, 2011), very little is known about what constitutes community engagement in terms of international students' education experience and the perceptions of the various stakeholder groups involved in such community engagement activities. Hence, it is germane for Australian universities and the international education sector as whole to consider the international tertiary student experience holistically--that is, the academic facet plus the community engagement facet. …

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