In the contemporary day it is not uncommon for learners from different parts of the world to choose to pursue their degrees in other nations of the globe far from their homelands. There are a variety of reasons for this with the most common being immigration or the prestigious nature of the universities abroad in terms of academic excellence. Nevertheless, there are a variety of challenges that such students face, especially on their arrival at Australian universities, as regards settling and adapting to the culture of the Australian Universities. As is to be expected, many of these challenges are cultural or social oriented (Thompson et al, 2006, p. 2); despite the fact that many students in Australian universities adapt quite easily, there are those that encounter great difficulties.
This essay aims as evaluating the different challenges that an immigrant student in Australia face regarding their adaptation to the culture in the Australian Universities. Yue (n.d) asserts that as a consequence of globalization and industrialization there many international learners streaming in from Asian nations into Australia. These learners bring in extra income to the Australian nation as well as increasing the cultural diversification of the country. According to Sherry et al (2010, p. 33) the number of reasons as to why learners opt for international studies are not new.
In addition to interacting with people from different cultural orientations and gaining knowledge on new forms of behavior and thought, the international learners are also able to form new friendships while at the same time acting as ambassadors for their cultural orientations in their host country. Nevertheless, for such positive outcomes to emanate from the experience of international learning, the relevant higher education institutions ought to put in place effective measures to make sure that the integration of the immigrant learners will be as smooth as possible. Failure to do so causes the international learner to be confronted with a number of socio-cultural impediments which might adversely affect their academic pursuits. Sherry et al (2010, p. 34) conducted an investigative study in the university of Toledo in the US so as to ascertain the truth of these claims. This university is comprised of more than 16,000 learners with 1 out of every ten being an international student.
There were many challenges that were revealed from this study; the most pronounced were problems with the language of communication, homesickness, economic problems and cultural alienation. In addition to this, Griffin et al (2004) asserts that the international learners in Australia may also find the teaching and pedagogical methodologies that are applied in their new learning institution very queer to those they were used to in their homelands; this may cause a lot of ambiguity as well as conflicting anticipations between the international learner, their professors and fellow learners.
According to Sherry et al (2010, p. 33), the international learners may also find themselves confronted with issues of racism and ethnic discrimination. This is especially more common when the international learners in Australian Universities are overly different from the other learners as regards their speech and dressing mannerisms. Griffin et al (2004) are further convinced that a student’s emotions and psychological predisposition play a very important role in whether or not they benefit fully from the learning processes that they are exposed to.
As a consequence of this, any exposures to learning shocks can have very detrimental effects on the international student in an Australian University. Learning shock is the terminology used to refer to the bewilderment, worry and disappointment that many international learners face when they come to an institution of higher learning which has not put in place the necessary mechanisms to help them adapt to their new settings. Marshall and Gary (n.d, p. 26) claim that issue that is very pertinent in the international learner’s smooth integration into the culture of Australian Universities is the issue of plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to the use of an individual’s original material without giving them credit for it, and posing it as one’s own work; the material in question could be a movie, pieces of writings and even quotes.
The worrying issue is that in many Australian universities the student reported to be involved in many of the detected plagiarism cases are the international students, especially those of the non- English speaking backgrounds. Marshall and Gary (n.d, p. 27) further state that the lack of English proficiency for an international student at any Australian University can be a great impediment to their academic achievements as well as their social life in Australia. In addition to shortcomings in the language of communication, investigations conducted on NESB learners also revealed a number of other issues that interfere with the international learner’s propensity towards plagiarizing their school work.
One of the reasons is the fact that the international learner lacks an understanding of the ethical issues and aftermaths, especially academically, that are associated with plagiarism. In addition to this, the international learner, unlike the local one, has a financial weight that is imposed upon them to do well so as not to shame their families, many of whom make significant economic sacrifices so that the learner can get educational at an international level.
As depicted by Griffin et al (2004), there are a variety of techniques that the international learner in an Australian University can apply to get over any challenges that confront them in their efforts to fit in. One of these mechanisms is finding a close friend that they can confide in and discuss the different cultural shocks that they may be encountering. The second very helpful method is diversion; this refers to doing other things so as to avoid focusing too much on one’s problems. International learners in Australia cam make excursions to Australian parks and museums, watch television and even listen to Australian music; apart fro diverting their attention from any culture shock they may be experiencing, this will also enable them to get more in touch with the Australian culture.
In conclusion, this essay clearly depicts learning institutions, specifically universities, as having their own particular culture. International learners who come to study in Australian Universities have to learn to adapt to the universities’ culture if they are to benefit maximally from the educational processes that they are exposed to. Some of the challenges that international learners face include the pressure to perform well, lack of proficiency in the English language, discrimination due to their race and ethnicity, plagiarism in class work as well as isolation and culture shock. Sherry et al (2010, p. 44) claim that there are a variety of policies that the Australian universities can adopt to make sure international students integrate smoothly into the culture of Australian Universities. These include highlighting the profile of international learners through events such as International Students’ Week and incorporating more articles about international learners and their cultures in the universities’ magazines and newsletters.