Proceedings of the 34th International Academic Conference, Florence

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ TRANSITION FROM PATHWAY PROGRAM TO MAINSTREAM UNIVERSITY: INSIGHTS AND CHALLENGES

LOUISE KAKTINS

Abstract:

This paper is one facet of a larger research project focusing on a case study of an Australian pathway program and involving both student and teacher respondents. The first exposure to higher education (HE) is a particularly vulnerable time for many international students as they cope with challenges on multiple fronts, including their acculturation into a new academic environment. Despite prolific literature on international postgraduate students, it is this formative undergraduate stage of their academic development that has been least studied, especially within the context of a pathway program. Based on focus groups of international students who have successfully completed such a program and are now undertaking a mainstream university degree program, some comparisons are between these two educational frameworks, especially in relation to how successfully this transition is made. Key concerns raised by the students include the mismatch between the pedagogical approach operating within the pathway program and that at mainstream university, the latter proving much more challenging and demanding, and the perennial difficulties with English language proficiency at an academic level, especially the impact on students’ assignments. Implications and recommendations are discussed.

Keywords: international students, pathway programs, higher education, international education, group work, transition to university, Australia

DOI: 10.20472/IAC.2017.034.024

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