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A. Karim

Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
Australian Universities are very successful in attracting large number of international students. A large proportion of University revenue comes from the full fee paying international students. However, there have been many reports that international students face numerous problems when they arrive in Australia. The common management practice is to provide support staff services to deal with the orientation and welfare of international students. Such service units act as intermediaries between the students and the teaching and learning community of the university. However, the actual experience of international students may be difficult for support staff, counsellors, advisers and academic staff to anticipate. There is little information on the actual experience of students relative to their expectations. This study aimed at securing a deeper understanding of the contextually relevant issues facing by international students in Australian universities in order to develop management strategies aimed at improved teaching and learning outcomes for international students. Using a highly reliable survey questionnaire, a questionnaire survey was conducted among the international students at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia. About 180 engineering students responded in the survey resulting in a response rate of 81%. Results indicate that international students face many difficulties including understanding colloquial language, Australian accent, cost of tuition, feelin isolation, safety, security, health services, accommodation and part time jobs. They also face difficulty in coping with learning methods in Australia, particularly in research report writing. However, they are happy with their lecturers and find them very helpful. Many of the students lacked the information regarding various community groups, recreational and sports facilities in Australia before arriving. Findings of the study show that there is a significant gap between the expectation of the students before coming to Australia and actual experience they experience here. Importantly, there is a lack of coordination between international students, international student services (ISS) and university management and as a consequence there have been little improvement in conditions. There is no direct link between student experience and University management. Many important suggestions arisen from this study and most important suggestion is that the student information system should be integrated with the University enterprise resource planning (ERP) to reduce the huge gap between international student expectation and actual experiences.