University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 6241-6247
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.1498
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
In the last decades, the number of international students in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions (HEI) has increased substantially (DGEEC 2017), particularly from the Portuguese Speaking Developing Countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Region (ACPR) – i.e. Angola, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Principe, Mozambique and East-Timor.

The students who come to pursue a Master or a PhD in Portugal arrive through two main ways:
i) special access schemes framed by scholarships, mainly financed by the Portuguese Cooperation Agency (Camões, I.P.) and/or by protocols signed with national state agencies, and other organizations such as universities; or
ii) direct application (by public notice), gaining the status of international students, i.e. self-financed students.

It is important to refer that international master students from non-European countries pay more tuition fees than national and international European students, which makes this group of candidates a highly appealing target for Portuguese HEI and their internationalization policies. However, even though the number of international students, and so intercultural supervision experiences are in expansion, the dissemination of associated supervisor learning experiences is still dispersed and isolated, and there is no disseminating and integrative policy in Portuguese HEI (Ferreira, Faria & Cardoso 2015; Lopes & Diogo 2019). In fact, one of the recurring identified risks in this domain concerns the dissemination of a 'Western research perspective'. Therefore, in order to enhance the quality of all advanced research and training experiences in this field, development agencies (OECD 2015; IPAD 2010) recommend best-practices and experience sharing. Portuguese Speaking Developing Countries of the ACPR are an interesting case of study because despite sharing a common language (Portuguese), empirical data evidence serious challenges in overcoming cultural differences, empowering the supervision experience of Master and PhD programs.

Methodologically, the paper relies on a qualitative study based on ethnographic reflections (Hernández, Sancho, Creus & Montané 2010; Mitra 2010) of two supervisors of ACPR students in a Portuguese public university since 2015. Reflections are sustained on document analysis (e.g. synthesis of the supervision meetings, email exchange with supervised students and audio records transcriptions of these sessions).

Preliminary conclusions allow us to identify the following key challenges associated to the supervision of international students, both from students (lack of information literacy competences, academic writing skills) side and supervisors side (intercultural communication mismatch).

Considering the fourth objective of the United Nations Agenda 2030 "Better Education for All", more specifically the target 4.b., focused on increasing the number of scholarships for students from developing countries to attend higher education (UNESCO 2016) by 2020, it is expectable an increase in the number of international students attending the 1st, 2nd or/and 3rd cycle programs in Portuguese HEI. It is hoped that this study will create opportunities for innovation within programs and strategies to support international students, who should be seen also as potential future partners of Portuguese HEI.
International Cooperation, Supervision, Higher Education, Professional Development, Pedagogical Strategies, master and PhD students.