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

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.

As university-community engagement initiatives can provide mutual benefits to key stakeholder groups (Ellis and Leahy, 2011; Gunasekara, 2004; Onyx, 2008), international students themselves, the community and the university all stand to gain (Brown, 2012; Burdett and Crossman, 2012; Leask and Carroll, 2011). International students receive an enhanced and well-rounded international education experience, increasing their sense of global citizenry (Dobson, 2003). Communities stand to gain fiscally and socially from international student community engagement (Dodd, 2008). Local and national industries such as hospitality, tourism and real estate benefit from international students (Dodd, 2008; Ross, 2011). Socially, communities gain intellectual capital, global cultural enrichment and a stronger relationship with the universities (Leask and Carroll, 2011; Parker, Myers, Higgins, Oddsson, Price and Gould, 2009). Universities are also advantaged in that international student community engagement meets the needs and wants of the market and in doing so enhances their reputation as an international education provider. Moreover, international student university-community engagement increases the number of and builds better relationships with the local communities in which they are located (Allison and Eversole, 2008; Lunsford and Omae, 2011). …

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