Academic and Social Experiences of Chinese International Undergraduate Students at a Canadian University

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The number of international students studying in Canadian universities continues to rise as a direct consequence of the internationalization of higher education in Canada. International students bring financial, cultural, and academic benefits to Canadian universities. Among all the international students pursuing higher education in Canada, Chinese international students take up a large portion and have become an important population group within the Canadian university community. Although Chinese international students have made tremendous contributions to Canadian universities, they also face many challenges when adjusting to their new environment. This study investigates the academic and social experiences of Chinese international undergraduate students through examining their transition process at one university in western Canada. The study is informed by Bourdieu’s capital theory. Specifically, this study employs a qualitative case study as the methodology and relied on semi-structured interviews as the method. Data for the study were collected from interviews with 10 Chinese international undergraduate students. This study reveals that Chinese international undergraduate students were motivated by different factors to study in Canada; additionally, they encountered various language, academic and social challenges, but each adopted creative coping strategies such as mobilizing their digital social capital to overcome these challenges. This study also suggests that it is important for university instructors, staff and local students to value international students’ cultural capital and their multilingual capital. Insights of the study can inform university policymakers, instructors, and staff to provide a better environment and appropriate support for international students.
Chinese international student, Bourdieu, Transition process, Education policy
Zhang, C. (2019). Academic and Social Experiences of Chinese International Undergraduate Students at a Canadian University (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from