A study of the adjustment experiences of Indian international students in New Zealand universities
A review of literature on the experiences of international students reveals their mostly adverse experiences in academic and social lives during their stay in a host country. At the same time, despite facing challenging experiences, international student numbers are rapidly increasing worldwide every year. Moreover, studies in general find that the facilities and services provided by the concerned educational providers are not being utilized by the international students as intended. Within this context, it may be mentioned that although Indian students have been coming to New Zealand for studies since 1951 as a result of the popular Colombo plan, there is no exclusive study on them, although we have such studies on the Chinese and Vietnamese international students. The absence of such a study prevents us from recognising the specific requirements or identifying the unique features of their experiences of adjustment to the new academic and social environment. A few studies on Indian students in other countries have identified some of their difficulties while adjusting to the conditions of host countries. Furthermore, the current statistics of international students in higher education sector worldwide reveal that India is one of the top source countries for international student migration at present and for the future. In New Zealand context, even though India is being considered as an important source country for international students in the university sector, the statistics indicate that the majority of Indian international students are not enrolled in universities. All these reasons indicate the need for a specific study on Indian international students and thus, this study was initiated to explore the adjustment experiences of Indian international students studying in eight universities in New Zealand, focussing on their language, academic and social life experiences. A mixed methods research approach was employed in this study. A survey questionnaire was used to collect data in the initial quantitative phase, and in the later phase, interviews were conducted for qualitative data collection. Both male and female Indian international students participated in this study. They were studying undergraduate or postgraduate courses at different universities in New Zealand, and belonged to different age groups and religions. Most of them have been studying outside India for the first time in their lives. The findings of this study revealed that Indian students have adequate levels of language proficiency; they adjusted well to their academic life; enjoyed their learning experiences in New Zealand; and minimised their psychological issues through utilising social media facilities. These findings differ from those of the other generic research on Asian students. But apart from these positive aspects, the findings also point to a few concerns about their initial adjustment to a new academic system and new social environment in New Zealand, arising from a lack of proper understanding and information. This study therefore suggests a model for better cross-cultural understanding of both the prospective students and the universities as a possible means to minimize the initial difficulties of these students.