Preparing Chinese international business students for the transition to undergraduate study in Australia

Geoff Lamberton, Southern Cross University
Sally Ashton-Hay, Southern Cross University

Document Type Article

Abstract

The diverse range of academic, social and cultural challenges experienced by Asian students when studying at Western universities is well documented. This research involved a pre-departure curriculum designed to ease the intercultural transition and adjustment for Chinese international students to a new learning environment in Australia. Moving beyond the conventional solution of establishing support systems for international students once onshore at the host institution, an academic team identified the major cultural and learning challenges for Chinese students, including use of technology, team work and active learning strategies. With embedded academic skills, the pre-departure programme was delivered at the Chinese partner institution with evidence that Chinese students developed understanding of the expectations for study at an Australian university and improved intercultural competence skills. An unanticipated result was how the project evolved into a much broader undertaking where insight gained into the enormous cultural and learning differences between a Chinese and an Australian university has led to pedagogical, curricular and environmental changes at the host institution. This study discusses lessons learned and presents cultural competence as a dual concept requiring international students, together with staff at the host institution, to engage actively in intercultural learning, creating a truly internationalised educational environment. Few studies on international student transition programmes exist, so this project has the potential to inform intercultural education providers, policy makers and educators.