Study about International Students
Research to -be presented as part of upcoming internationalization symposium at York
TORONTO --A new study by a York University professor is challenging the stereotype of the introverted and studious international student -- at least in part. The survey of 1,500 Canadian undergrads revealed that while international students hit the books harder than their domestic peers and spend just as much time socializing, they score lower academically.
The study, by York University sociologist Paul Grayson, will be presented as part of a major symposium,Internationalizing Canada’s Universities, taking place at York on March 2-3, 2006.
Grayson examined the attitudes of undergraduate students at four Canadian universities: York, UBC, McGill, and Dalhousie. He found that in comparison to their domestic peers, international students put in an extra hour per week studying and spend more time in the library, yet their GPAs are 4.4 percentile points lower.
"Obviously, language problems might in part explain the lower GPAs of international students; however, it is important to note that English is also a problem for many Canadian-born students who spoke another language in the home while growing up," says Grayson.
He says academic differences are also due to other factors.
"This study shows that many international students feel they can’t turn to other students for help with academic problems, and they seek out the support of faculty members less than domestic students," Grayson says. "There also appears to be a disparity between high school and university achievement. It seems that the academic accomplishments of overseas students are sometimes overestimated, and this shows up in the first year GPAs."
One thing is certain: international students are definitely not shy. They have just as many friends as their Canadian classmates, and are similarly likely to be found hanging out at the campus pub.
"The stereotype of international students as particularly studious is certainly true," says Grayson. "But contrary to the impression created by much former research, they’re not socially isolated. Their level of involvement in many social and extracurricular spheres is as great – or in some cases, greater -- than the involvement of domestic students."
More facts about international students in Canadian universities:
Asian students – from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – comprise 39% of international students.
Only 60% of international students are female, versus 73% of domestic students.
International students have more highly-educated parents; 58% have fathers who obtained at least a B.A, versus 42% of domestic students.
They’re also harder on themselves. International students are 6% less likely to feel they lived up to their potential in the previous academic year.
Classroom experiences vary little. Both the majority of international and domestic students like their professors and think they do a good job – though fewer international students regard their professors as having a sense of humour.
The study is based on a survey of international and domestic students entering the University of British Columbia, York University, McGill University, and Dalhousie University in the fall of 2003. Excluding faculties for which a prior degree was required (e.g. law) all international students entering first year in each of the four universities who were 30 years of age or younger were mailed a questionnaire in January, 2004. For comparison purposes, comparable numbers of randomly-selected domestic students were also included in the study. In addition, 16 separate focus group meetings (four in each university) were held with domestic and international students in the fall of 2003 and spring of 2004. The intent of these meetings was to obtain an in-depth appreciation of students’ experiences.
York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 faculties and 22 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.
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