The landscape of higher education has been changing over the past two decades. In 2009, the estimated number of students enrolled outside their country of citizenship was almost 3.7 million (OECD 2011). The international activities of universities in the United Kingdom (UK) have expanded dramatically in volume, scope and complexity over the last decade. The United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs’ (UKCISA) figures indicate that between 1997-98 and 2007-08, there has been an 96% increase in international students studying in the UK. In 2010-11, there were 428,225 international students in the UK (UKCISA). In these circumstances, therefore, it is extremely vital for the universities to look at issues also from the perspective of the international students to be able to identify and manage any gap that may exist between the ‘expectations’ and ‘experiences’ of a globally mobile student population. This paper presents findings from a study that was conducted to examine the expectations and experiences of international students at a university in the UK that is relatively new to attracting international students to its campus-based programmes. Using an adapted version of the SERVQUAL framework, the study found that while the student experience has been generally positive, there were gaps between student ‘expectations’ and their ‘experiences’ of the “on ground realities.” Given the likely continued growth in international student mobility, the study presents some pointers for universities to address if they intend not only to maintain but also to develop their reputation in an ever increasing internationally competitive environment of global rankings and league tables.
|Keywords:||International Student Expectation versus Experience, Expectation versus Reality, SERVQUAL, International Student Mobility, Internationalisation of Higher Education, Study Abroad|
Senior Lecturer, Chester Business School, University of Chester, Chester, Cheshire, UK
University of Chester, UK
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