Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Andrew Guilfoyle

Abstract

University transition is a form of change from the familiar to unfamiliar (Hellsten, 2002). According to a literature review, international students (IS) go through both positive and negative experiences due to cross- cultural learning (Grey, 2002). Findings from previous research can be broadly categorised into academic and/or socio-cultural difficulties. Academic issues included getting used to a different learning and teaching environment, a heavier study load coupled with language barriers and academic procedures (Mcinnis, 2001). Socio-cultural issues included culture shock (Townsend & Wan, 2007), language difficulties (Cannon, 2002), discrimination (Poyrazli & Lopez, 2007) and financial issues (Forbes- Mewett et al., 2007). Although not mutually exclusive, many studies have studied either one or the other, ignoring the complex interaction between the two, but often international students experience an interaction of issues which can be inseparable (Yanhong & Kaye, 1998). To lessen negative transition, universities have provided a number of formal services, but due to the limitations of space, only the evaluated and reported services are discussed. As research has shown, most IS prefer informal and personalised services, making it harder for universities to cater for their individual needs (Rosenthal, Russell, & Thomson, 2007). Cost effectiveness in terms of manpower and infrastructure (Houston, 2008) and quality and inclusive education (Hellsten & Prescott, 2002) are issues related to service provision that was addressed. Limitations and direction for future research, in terms of more research focusing on the interaction of transition issues were discussed (Best, Hajzler, & Henderson, 2007). A phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of Seychelles international students (IS) during university transition. Rationale for the study was twofold; first, there has been little research done on this cohort and second there is a need to understand their experiences to demonstrate the ways that better catered services can be developed for unique cohorts. Twelve Seychelles students from Edith Cowan University, Perth, were interviewed. Interviews were done in Creole, the participants' native language, and the data was translated into English, transcribed and thematically analysed. Three themes were extracted, namely social, academic and financial support and it was reported that the broader overarching phenomenological 'essence' of the experience was a sense of isolation, which was experienced across various dimensions. It was concluded that Seychelles IS reported some similar transitional experiences described by previous research, but there were also unique experiences and the university services should reflect these. Limitations and direction for future research are discussed.

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