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University counselling services, like most university support services, constantly review how they can deliver a more efficient service to their clients. In the last ten years, increased numbers of international students have been a significant feature of tertiary education institutions. Understanding the adjustment experiences of international students in a tertiary environment will allow university counselling services to develop policies and practices that better meet the needs of this cohort. The focus of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of international students during their first year at university and their views regarding the use of the university counselling service as a support service during that time.
“Out of the Circle”: international students and the use of university counselling services
Pius L.D. Ang
Postgraduate Student and
Increased challenges for international students
International students as a cohort experience greater changes during the initial transitional period than domestic students (HechanovaAlampay, Beehr, Christiansen & Van Horn 2002, Leong & Chou 1996, Suen 1998, Ward, Bochner & Furnham 2001). They are required to deal with the differences between their own cultural values, norms and customs and those of their hosts. They experience problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, dealing with interpersonal relationships, as well as learning to deal with the issue of becoming an adult away from their families and communities (HechanovaAlampay et al. 2002). Cultural differences related to the educational environment, as well as language issues, will be discussed in more depth later in this introduction. However, Hechanova-Alampay et al. (2002) and Bailey and Dua (1999) argue that collectively, these challenges, together with generally having a more limited social resource structure and network, lead to a higher level of stress for these students. Brein and David (1971, cited in Bailey & Dua 1999) found that the period of greatest stress relating to the adjustment of
School of Public Health La Trobe University
In this paper, we attempt to gain a greater understanding of the adjustment experiences of international students from Mainland China in their first year at university. Three themes emerge from our data: lack of confidence in speaking English; the preference for using family, partners and close friends as their support networks to deal with problems; and the lack of knowledge of university counselling services. The participants did not view the university counselling services as a support service they would use to assist them with their personal difficulties.
110 Pius L.D. Ang and Pranee Liamputtong
“Out of the circle”: international students and the use of university counselling services 111
dealing with a new cultural environment occurred within the first six months of the student’s stay in a new country. The first year of university, for most students, has a number of difficulties and challenges. International students, as a sub-group of the first year student population, are universally required to deal with additional challenges during their transition phase. Universities in Australia are becoming more reliant on the income from international students to remain viable, which makes it imperative that these students’ experiences are better understood, and that every opportunity is made to assist them to have a positive experience during their time at university. The experiences in the first few months for a new international student, dealing with a new educational environment and settling in a new country, could be characterised by interactions that are filled with misunderstandings due to the complexities of the