Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Factors Hindering Socio-Cultural Integration of International Students: A Case of University of Zululand and University of Venda

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Factors Hindering Socio-Cultural Integration of International Students: A Case of University of Zululand and University of Venda

Article excerpt

Introduction

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization reports of 2009 reveal that about 165 million students participated in formal tertiary education around the world (UNESCO, 2007; 2011; UNESCO-UIS 2012). The participation increase at 2% annually with India, China, Korea, and African countries taking the lead across the globe (Song, 2013). Because studying abroad has become a cultures recognised as an opportunities for career development and understandings of global cultural and social experiences, the number of young people seeking to migrate for the purpose of studies is increasing dramatically, on daily basis (World Bank, 2009; World Bank, 2009; 2010; UNESCO-UIS, 2010b; Song, 2013). Statistics have shown that the population of internationally mobile students across the world in 1980 was about 1.1 million, it increases to 1.3 million in 1990 but climbed to 3.4 million in 2009 (UNESCO-UIS, 2012). The population of internationally mobile student is envisaged to reach 8 million by 2020 (Altbach, 2006; UNESCO-UIS, 2012). More than 70,000 international students from various countries of the world were pursuing different degrees especially at the post graduate level in South Africa in 2015 (MacGregor, 2015).

It has been argued, although that international students migrate to search for better education opportunities but the output from their research contribute in developing the host country, economically, socially, material and others (Knight, 2006; MacGregor, 2015). This conform to British Council (2014) who reiterate that the integration of international students has significant impact not only on the entire students and faculty, but on the prospects of an institution and a nation. Singh (2013) also supports that "the greater the number of international students at a university the more exposure the university receives on a global level. This creates positive spin-offs for the university (funding, students, international rating)." This therefore indicates that there is a need for participation of international students in the higher learning institutions of every nation in the world.

Despite the positive implications of internationally mobile students, studies across the world have shown that most often, international students pass through a lot of challenges that deter them from integration (Mak and Tran, 2001; Wu, 2015; Hopkins, 2012; An and Chiang, 2015; Rosenbergon, 2016). Some of the challenges also form part of the factors that hinder socio-cultural integration. Making it difficult if not impossible for international students to relate well with host students in the same institution. It is not clear what is causing the attrition. In the United States for example, Wu (2015) state that cultures have different norms which guides behaviour and way of living. Therefore, the cultural adjustment demands of international students differ from that of the host country. Hence, it becomes difficult for international students to integrate easily.

Rosenbergon (2016) contend that new student abroad feel intimidated to acclimatize and associate due to behaviour differences and life style. Hopkins (2012) also support that many international students are willing to make friends and relate with others irrespective of cultural background, but most often, lack the determination and approach. While some are hardened to cultural differences, others prefer to be approached by local students to establish a school relationship (Hopkins, 2012). This is synonymous to China where most international students lack sociocultural integration communication skills and language difficulties (An and Chiang, 2015). Some other factors are uncertainty avoidance (Pritchard & Skinner, 2002) ethnic identity (Li & Gasser, 2005), and self-efficacy (Mak & Tran, 2001). Yeh and Inose (2003), Constantine et al. (2004), Wilcox et al. (2005), Wei (2007) have also identified academic pressures, language difficulties, feelings of inferiority, difficulties in adjusting to new food or cultural values, lack of support, perceived discrimination, and homesickness. …

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