Internationalising Education and Cultural Competence

International education and cultural competence 1

“International education is not the rich intercultural experience it could be” (Marginson 2012).


Lack of interaction between international and local students, cultural misunderstandings and communication difficulties contribute greatly to this. Australian colloquialisms, for instance, often exclude international students accustomed to formal English (Kell and Vogl 2006, p.5). Furthermore, the Australian drinking culture makes interaction difficult for international students who have cultural or religious beliefs against drinking.


However, many local students have ethnocentric views, expecting international students to progress “from home identity to host country identity” (Marginson 2012). Despite the general stigma that “local students are not interested” (Marginson 2012), Vogl and Kell state that local students, like international students, merely don’t know how to initiate a conversation either (2006, p.5).  This is a misunderstanding which is not helped by the tendency to label international students as only socialising with each other or students of the same background (Kell and Vogl 2006, p.7).



Steps must be taken to resolve this. Mihaela Jarcău states intercultural competence is a main goal of intercultural education (Jarcău 2014, p. 423). Ethnocentricity and ethnocentric stigmas such as the ‘deficit model’ (assumes that international students are lacking and weak) must be abandoned. Local students must exercise empathy, and we must learn from international students who they are (Marginson 2012).  This empathetic understanding is a major reason why international students in Kell and Vogl’s studies (2006, p.5) found interactions with students who had travelled far easier. Pairing of international and local students in room assignments (Kell and Vogl 2006, p.7), or a ‘buddy system’ is a further solution. Even these steps would ease social interaction and enrich international education for international students, whilst encouraging cultural competence.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s