Intercultural Interactions: Understanding the Perspectives of University Staff Members, International and Domestic Students
Common Ground Publishing
Faculty of Education and Arts
Office of Associate Dean - Teaching and Learning (FEA)
Intercultural interaction has been the subject of much debate since globalization caused an upsurge in the number of enrolled international students. A qualitative case study was carried out at an Australian university, whereby 25 international students, 38 staff members, and 10 domestic students were interviewed regarding their perspectives on support services offered to international students. A social constructivist theoretical framework informed the collection and analysis of data, and findings suggested that one of the major themes of the international students’ university experience is related to intercultural interactions both in class and on campus, in general. The data shows that many staff members blamed international students since they tend to cluster amongst each other and do not make an effort to interact with domestic students. On the other hand, international students expressed facing a number of challenges, including perceived language and cultural barriers, and some reported feeling ‘unwanted’ when it came to interacting with native English speakers. Some staff members suggested that they felt the need to ‘force’ group work by mixing domestic and international students, but that often became problematic for both groups, with domestic students complaining that it is hard to work with international students, and that domestic students end up doing all the work. These issues and its implications for intercultural interactions will be discussed as well as limitations and directions for future research.