Challenges Faced by University Staff Members when Providing Services to International Students: An Australian Perspective

By Sophia A. Harryba, Andrew M. Guilfoyle and Shirlee-ann Knight.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A qualitative case study examined the challenges of service provision and utilization at an Australian university. Using a Social Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology, 73 participants were interviewed, including 38 staff members (16 academic, 22 non-academic), 25 international (IS) and 10 domestic students (DS). Challenges that staff members experienced when working with IS included university and student-level challenges lack of incentive, heavy workloads, and perceived language barriers. A main issue related to equity and whether or not staff members were acting in an equitable manner towards the IS and DS. Themes that emerged included lack of training for staff members responsible for working with ESL students and miscommunication between staff members. These issues added onto an already heavy workload which was felt as even heavier because of IS perceived language barriers. For many academic staff members, these factors appear to have contributed to the reported increase in leniency-whereby lectures evaluate academic work from IS differently to those of DS. The implications of these findings for institutions which enroll IS are discussed.

Keywords: International Students, Equity, Univeristy Staff, Academic Support

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp.15-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 901.947KB).

Dr. Sophia A. Harryba

PhD Student, School of Psychology, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

PhD candidate at the Edith Cowan University. Has researched and published in the area of Higher Education and International Education. Is interested in the area of Internationalising Higher Education and the Transition journey of International students.

Dr Andrew M. Guilfoyle

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

Dr. Andrew Guilfoyle (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University. Andrew has published over 50 peer reviewed publications, completed several large scale national and regional funded projects and regularly presents this work at international forums. His research is focused on developing sustainable services for social inclusion of Indigenous communities and CaLD populations He wqorks within a constructionist, participatory, locational, community based approach. His recent book chapter on Participation with Australian Aboriginal Communities’ (Elsevier Ltd: London) received an outstanding international review by Prof. Ron Chenail, Editor of The Qualitative Report ( “Participatory Action Research as Empowerment Evaluation: Andrew Guilfoyle, Juli Coffin, and Paul Maginn illustrate the utility and challenges of understanding and encouraging not only community involvement, but also community engagement in policy making and evaluation.”

Dr. Shirlee-ann Knight

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Computing, Health & Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

Dr. Shirlee-ann Knight is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow with the Systems & Intervention Research Centre for Health and West Australian Centre for Cancer & Palliative Care at Edith Cowan University (ECU) Western Australia. She holds a PhD in Information Systems, and specialises in the analysis of the complex relationships existent within systems. Shirlee-ann’s PhD “User Perceptions of Information Quality in World Wide Web Information Retrieval Behaviour” was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project between ECU and University of Wollongong, and earned the prestigious “2008 Ballou & Pazer DQ/IQ Dissertation of the Year” award (ICIQ at M.I.T.) for its contribution to the field of information quality research. Shirlee-ann currently works in a Health Systems context, investigating novel and innovative approaches to understanding Health ICT implementation and adoption.


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