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Academic Achievement among International Students and Associated Issues Research Paper


In the last six decades, the number of International students has been steadily increasing across many parts of the world. In the United Kingdom, this increase has particularly been awesome (Beckhridnar and Vickers, 2007 p4).

Academic achievement among the international students can be described as both successful and less successful in a number of parameters. While there exists success stories that can be reported home with a number of factors determine this, it is also true that these associated factors have also functioned to impede or delay the success portended.

Adjustment to foreign culture by international students is always a challenging experience, more so given that they have to deal with different cultural settings, education systems, and language differences.

In most cases, international students have to deal with various groups of people including the co-national, multinational and local friends.

This kind of interaction is always beneficial to the foreign students, more so in relation to learning host culture; however, they experience a slight resistance, if any, to that culture, but the most important aspect is the provision of a fertile ground for ‘cultural shift’. It has also been observed that when the international students interact with their local friends, their cultural adaptability important (Brislin, 1990).

This paper seeks to address the academic achievement among the international students within the confluence of a number of issues in colleges and universities.

These include economic conditions, the extent of the students’ success, and the effect of peer programs on International students in terms of their adjustment.

In addition, the paper seeks to illuminate on impact of multicultural interaction on international Students, focusing both on the positive and the negative.

Further, it seeks within this to give specific attention to the issue of friendship formation as a key factor in determining the extent of international student’s interaction within their social ties and what these mean in enhancing adjustment, academic performance and psycho-social well being. Additionally the paper zeroes down on the expectations that Universities have of the International students.

Impact of Peer Program on International Student Adjustment and Performance

It has been repeatedly asserted that international students usually experience adjustment issues and problems when getting into foreign institutions of higher learning particularly the United States.

Broadly speaking, these problems are many, ranging from language issues, different educational system, and individual personal issues for instance experience of homesickness, as well as the physical distance from those they are familiar with (Gonzalez, 2004). Other problems are tailored around culture shock associated with unfamiliar and new social norms (Abe et al, 1998, p1).

In fact, studies have indicated that social norms and social interaction are the major problems experienced by such students (Kaczmarek et al, 1994). A number of studies have suggested that social interaction and the adjustment of international students are closely related to the social interaction and their adjustment.

Other studies have particularly suggested that Asian students particularly experience more of these problems than any students coming from other parts of the world, more so in relation to acquisition of second language (Andrade, 2009).

This is particularly in line with them trying to make friends and their adjustment to campus life (Ward, Bochner &, Furnham 2001, p71).

Based on the above social facts, many colleges and universities have instigated programs to facilitate proper adjustment of international students, and one such methodology has been through ‘the implementation of peer programs’.

Statistically, it has been found that most students, who get into these programmes, register higher academic performance and results in the long run, with most of them registering few dropouts as compared to those who do not participate at all in these programmes. Notably too is the fact that most of these students tended to make good use of campus facilities.

Regardless of these notable achievements, little research and investigation has been carried out in recent times for publication on international students adjustment programmes.

Sadly too is the fact that even in terms of information little is available to carry home on these programmes. This is further compounded by little information being available in regards to the t relationship and attitude that host students have towards the foreign/international students (Abe et al, 1998, p16-17).

The implications of peer adjustment programmes however remain significant among international students as having very important influence among international students, especially as far as social adjustment goes.

Indeed, it has been observed by many scholars and thinkers alike that peer adjustment programmes when deal with well portends even a greater influence on the other areas which require adjustments including facilitation of the right skills for academics (Abe et al, 1998, p15).

One case that has often been mentioned and which has had significant impact is the fact that putting together students who have common academic interests significantly promotes the adjustments of international students (Abe et al, 1998, p14).

Other areas of focus on this should be on the host students. They should for example train the international students on the academic skills and resources necessary to facilitate their success to succeed in the host countries.

Further, a number of constructive and researched strategies should be employed with a view to enhancing institutional attachment (Abe et al, 1998, p15).

This could take the form of the administrators involved in peer adjustment programmes, should participate in encouraging the international students themselves in being part and parcel in the planning and implementation of project tasks for ‘Campus Development’.

This observably leads to aiding the international students in being cognizant with the impact they portend on the university campus communities as well as facilitating their sense of belonging (Abe et al, 1998, p16-17).

Effects on Multicultural Interaction on International Students

Searle and Ward (1990) evaluated depression in relation to psychological adjustment and social difficulty among students in New Zealand and found out a number of issues.

The centerpiece of the findings was that the international students satisfaction with the host nationals, change in life patterns, and extraversion are the principal factors that affect psychological adjustment among students.

On the other hand the study found out that ‘cultural distance, expected difficulty and depression ‘influences socio-cultural adjustment (Sukari, 2009, p4).

With these assertions in mind, a number of scholars and thinkers alike have authoritatively suggested that social support plays a significant role in enhancing psychological adjustment and facilitates effective and efficient learning of the important skills in a new cultural spectrum presented in foreign universities and the enhancement of positive adaptability to socio-cultural adjustment (Sukari, 2009, p12.).

Multicultural Interaction and the Functional Model in relation to Friendship

Sukari (2009) has described functional friendship arrangement, with the belief that international students generally interact with three broad social groups.

These include the co-national, multinational and local friends (Sukari, 2009, p10). The co-national grouping is the friends and associates with whom the students trace their national country or native origin.

Multinational grouping are the category of friends who are from other countries and studying in the same university. Local friends refer to those friends of the host country where the student studies (Sukari, 2009, p10).

Observably, many international students tend to have different set of interaction patterns with the aforementioned groups. Broadly, this comes as “personal relationships with co-national friends, recreational and social relationships with multinational friends, and academic and professional relationships with local friends” (Sukari, 2009, p11).

This implies that the international students often times have intimate interaction with the co-nationals, and slightly with their multinationals friends to some degree, and interestingly their relationship with the locals is ‘simply distant and instrumental’ (Sukari, 2009, p11)

Studies have suggested that when an international student is satisfied with the co-nationals, he/she tends to have stable psychological well being (Ward and Searle, 1991).

Further, the student having greater number of local friends has been observed to decrease the amount of stress related to culture (Olaniran, 1993). For the case of multinational stress, both positive and negative impacts have been recorded (Ward, Bochner &, Furnham, 2001, p.112).

One of the strategies that have predominantly worked well for the International Students is the adoption of the host culture and retains the national cultural heritage as well.

This has worked in promoting their well-being (Sukari, 2009 p12). It has also been suggested by a number of scholars on the importance of adopting a bit of the host culture cultural morphology and identity, with this related to enhancing exposure with a number of benefits (Ward, Bochner &, Furnham, 2001:147).

The assertion here is that when students interacts with the host culture, often time they experience little resistance if any to that culture and also provides a fertile ground for ‘cultural shift’.

It has also been observed that when the international students interact with their local friends, their cultural adaptability important for enhanced cultural performance is enhanced.

This is further compounded with the fact this lead to enhanced quality communication and decreased or few experiences of social difficulties. Indeed as Ward, Bochner &, Furnham (2001) observed international students and foreigners generally adapt easily to the socio-cultural situations when they identify with the host culture. This leads to positive adjustment of the students (Sukari, 2009, p12: Ward, Bochner &, Furnham, 2001, p. 160).

Problem of International Students and Selective making of friends

It is empirically testable the friendship with local students of the host countries in the United Kingdom has positive impact to the international students (Sukari, 2009, p. 17).

Regardless of this assertion, it has been found that international students make very few friends with the locals in their overall friendship arrangements and networking.

A number of researchers have indicated that the international students have the will to make friends with students of the host country, but find difficulties in the process (Ward, Bochner &, Furnham, 2001).

The aforementioned assertions can be attributed to the students ‘friendship orientation’ as described by Pham (cited in Sukari, 2009). The orientations are of two types according to Pham (cited in Sukari, 2009) namely: Relationship Establishing Orientation (REO) and Relationship Maintaining Orientation (RMO).

The former implies the inclination to forming relationships, while the latter is the predisposition towards keeping the relationships in existence (Sukari, 2009, p18.). In these two categories, students who are European and American in origin tend to subscribe to Relationship Formation Orientation while other students particularly those coming From Asia tend to subscribe to Relationship Maintaining Orientation.

Thus, for the students of the latter, European or American in origin, have a more solid cultural orientation has facilitated by the local hosts and thus tend to be more culturally adjusted and show better academic performance (Sukari, 2009, 19).

This also makes them adjust to the surroundings quickly and their academic performance among other school activities is normally higher than their Asian and African International students (Sukari, 2009, p. 21).

Other studies that have been conducted about the same indicate that the molds of friendships among international students indeed place a big impediment in the way the international students socialize with their host friends as well as others.

Bochner and Ward (2001) profoundly asserts that international students whom subscribe to Relationship Establishment Orientation (REO) usually have and often times exhibit more multinational friends than those who scored lower in Relationship Maintaining Orientations (RMO).

Further, the study by Pham, according to Ward, Bochner &, Furnham (2001), shows that those who register lower scores in Relationship Maintaining Orientation (RMO) attract more co-national friends and fewer local/host country friends than other categories that were in the study.

In terms of density of the social ties and networking among the students, the findings are revealing (Kellegan, et al 1996). The social web of the international students predominantly entails their co-nationals and multinational friend’s categories, with the tendency of these groups to know each other much better (Ward, Bochner &, Furnham, 2001: 156).

However, their local friends have a lower probability of becoming friends with their co-national friends as well as the international category of friends (Sukari, 2009, 23).

Sukari thus draws a number of conclusions. The first conclusion is that can thus be drawn from here is that the relationship nature of many students coming from

Asia per se are largely defined within the confluence of their co-national and multinationals, with the local/host friends predominantly left out of the equation. Thus, this has the effect of increasing their opportunities of meeting local friends and sometimes portends serious cultural gaps (Carroll and Ryan, 2006).

The other conclusion worth making as ensuing from the argument is that, cultural congruency among students determines on a larger scale friendship formation with the European, Australian, and the American students finding it easy to connect (Sukari, 2009, 24). This makes them more easily adaptable to the surrounding and thus places them at an advantage position for academic and other related exploits than other counterparts.

Upsurge in the Number of Students: Economic and other associated impacts

The number of international students upsurge in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the world has been steadily on the increase in the last half of the 20th Century.

The students coming from the European Union and elsewhere in America, North and South, Africa, and Asia studying in the United Kingdom today is alarming, with a number of benefits (Beckhridnar and Vickers. 2007, p 4).

Beckhridnar and Vickers (2007), notes that the benefits that these international students into the United Kingdom society, the Economy and culturally are great and difficult to quantify.

The economic variation can be examined within the confluence of tuition fees these students pay and the livings costs they accrue. Beyond these, a number of these students work or remain to work in the United Kingdom for a year and their enormous contribution in terms of resource pull is insurmountable (Beckhridnar and Vickers, 2007, p4).

This is emphasized by Arthur (2004) who notes that international students have a great economic impact to students and countries they move into.

Other than this, the European Union Students alone, if they can continue to stay as they work in this year alone, and if those who graduate have to stay for about 5 years upon graduation, then the government will have a fiscal gain of about 106 million pounds annually (Keith , 2011).

Again, it has been found that if public spending on the above group of people is estimated only at a third of the amount of tax they expend into the economy, with s huge net fiscal gain of about 142 million pounds (Beckhridnar and Vickers, 2007, p19).

Besides, for the non-European student, it has been observed that if their number remains the same and that they stay five years after their graduation, then the government stands to gain about 106 million pounds (Beckhridnar and Vickers, 2007, p20).


In the last six decades, the number of International students has been steadily increasing across many parts of the world, with both social, cultural, economic, and psychological benefits and bottlenecks as well.

International students have made a number of progresses in foreign countries, with difficulties as well. The economic advantages that these students have accrued the host countries are insurmountable and cannot be easily quantified.

These difficulties are largely tied to social, economic and psychosocial as well as cultural dilemmas in relation to adjustment. One issue that is clear from this paper is the fact that there is a substantive association cultural orientation and friendship as well as adaptation to students psychological well being and their academic performance.

It is therefore a challenge for education providers and policy makers in general to institute policy interventions that would favor strategies formulations that establish students multicultural excursions in international activities, with clear objectives put to students on the benefits that should accrue such endeavors as making friends as promotional measure and strategy.

It is hypothetically true that multicultural activities influence positively international students in their day-to-day functioning in the universities.

It therefore follows that policy makers and educational institutions should be encouraged and facilitated where necessary to organize programmes, which target both local-international students and the international-international students.

It should be noted that the benefits that the United Kingdome economy is the tuition originating from abroad, particularly those come from outside the European Union, which according the United Education Policy pay high thus injecting positively into the economy.

Further, it has been reported that tuition paid by non-European Countries in higher with financial report of 2004-2005 alone estimated at 1.5 billion pounds. In Greenaway and Tuck Report, both the undergraduate and the post-graduate international students did spend approximately more than 2.5 Billion Pounds in living costs alone in the same financial year.

Additionally, accordingly, the international students spent about 455.7 million pounds, which is an equivalent of the total amount in 2005 which stood at 614.7 million pounds)

Reference List

Abe, j. et al. 1998. Effects of a Peer Program on International Student Adjustment. Web.

Andrade, M. S. et al. 2009. International students: strengthening a critical resource. Plymouth: R&L Education.

Arthur, N., 2004. Counseling international students: clients from around the world. NY: Springer.

Bekhradnia, P. and Vickers, D., 2007. The Economic Costs and Benefits of International Students. Higher Education Policy Institute. Web.

Brislin, R. W., 1990. Intercultural Interactions: A Practical Guide. London: Sage.

Carroll, J. and Ryan, J., 2006. Teaching international students: improving learning for all. NY: Routledge.

Charles, H. and Stewart, M., 1991. Academic Advising of International Students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development, Vol. 19, No.4, pp. 173-181.

Gonzalez, V., 2004. Second language learning: cultural adaptation processes in international graduate students in U.S. universities. NY: University Press of America.

Greaney, V. and Kellegan, T., 1996. Monitoring the Learning Outcomes of Education System. New York: World Bank.

Kaczmarek, P. G. et al. 1994. An assessment of international college students’ adjustment. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, Volume 17, Number 4, pp. 241-247.

Keith, K., 2011. Cross-Cultural Psychology: Contemporary Themes and Perspectives. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Searle, W. and Ward, C., 1990. The Prediction of Psychological and Sociocultural adjustment during cross-cultural transitions. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Vol. 14, pp. 449-464.

Sukarai, T., 2009. Effect on Multicultural Interaction on International Students. Web.

Ward, C., Bochner, S. and Furnham, A., 2001. Psychology of Culture Shock. Sussex: Routledge.

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