You do not know what you do not know - Effective personal tutoring to international students

Tao Jiang (University of Leeds)

Monday, April 3, 2023 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

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Session Outline

UK Higher Education Institutions (HIEs) have had a historical reputation for high quality education (Smailes and Gannon-Leary, 2008). In modern times, UK HE internationalisation has been through some dramatic changes. For example, international students used to pay £250 for their tuition in 1969 and they began to pay full fees in the early 1980s (Walker, 2013). The globalisation trend in the early 1990s had brought an era of massive increases of international students across UK HEIs (OCED, 2004), and the current government has set out its ambition to increase the number of international students to 600,000 by 2030 (Department for Education, 2019).

During their contacts with the new learning environment, international students tend to go through a cultural adaptation process, also known as acculturation (Berry, 1999, p. 40). In this cultural adaptation process, international students need to deal with many issues such as new way of living, homesickness, housing, language and unfamiliar educational structures and systems (Misra et al, 2003; Yakunina et al, 2013). The difficulties that they tend to encounter while dealing with such issues may lead to acculturative stress, which is defined as the disorientation that often accompanies cross-cultural transitions (Sandhu and Asrabadi, 1994). Also, many international students were not prepared to deal with the unexpected nature of acculturation (Yan and Berliner, 2013) especially when the cultural differences between their home countries and the host country were extreme (Ward, et al, 2001), e.g., between Asian and the Western countries such as USA and UK (Samovar and Porter, 1991). As such, international students often need more support from academic advisors than home students (Yakunina, et al, 2013) in order to have a smooth transnational transition (Lipson and Goodman, 2008).

The designation of ‘personal tutor’ conveys a sense of moral duty and personal care, which is unique to UK HE (Earwaker, 1992, p.45) and its origin can be dated back to the medieval times at Oxford and Cambridge universities. This Oxbridge system had significant influence on UK HE in that institutions were expected to support students not only as a learner, but also as an individual person (Halsey, 1991; Tapper and Salter, 1992). And yet, many personal tutors in UK HEIs do not seem to know how to engage with international students to support their transition and development during their learning journey (O’Shea, 2014).

This session will take a holistic view to discuss the challenges facing international students and why they do not seem to engage with personal tutoring as well as home students. This session will also aim to provide some practical advice for personal tutors to break down the barriers while working together with international students.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C1 - Core values of academic advising and tutoring
C3 - Academic advising and tutoring approaches and strategies
C5 - How equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach
R2 - Communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
P2 - Appreciate students’ views and cultures, maintain a student-centred approach and mindset, and treat students with sensitivity and fairness