Different studies have proved that internationalisation is beneficial for students. However, it must be clear that, when talking about internationalisation, it doesn’t only focus on welcoming international students and helping them with their possible doubts and problems. It is also a question of integration, in which both domestic and international students feel that they really are part of a multicultural community, mixing themselves and participating together within the student life.
The question is whether universities really provide the tools necessary to achieve this internationalisation, as well as whether students feel that integration. Therefore, Helen Spencer-Oatey and Daniel Dauber have carried out a research to find about students’ expectations and their actual experiences.
The researchers created The Global Education Profiler (GEP), a tool to analyse the development of intercultural competence in universities, considering three different aspects:
- Social integration: how much interaction students from different backgrounds have.
- Academic integration: how much interaction and cohesion not only students from different backgrounds have during the university activities, but also with university staff.
- Global opportunities and support: which opportunities students have to develop their intercultural growth, as well as whether the university helps them to foster their intercultural skills.
2360 domestic and international students from six different English-speaking universities were asked to answer some questions, considering the importance they gave to the three aspects mentioned above and whether they really felt that they were experiencing them at the university.
The results showed that, generally speaking, students considered internationalisation as something important, but they were not experiencing it to a big degree. Therefore, there was always a gap between what they would like to have and what they actually had.
That is the reason why the researchers consider that universities should give a real thought to how they introduce internationalisation into the student environment, so that students can really benefit from the advantages of mixing backgrounds.