Preparing Chinese Students for the New Zealand Academic Environment: The Foundation Studies Programme
This research project examines the Foundation Studies Programme at Victoria University of Wellington to see if it succeeds in its aim to prepare students for undergraduate study in New Zealand, and to identify what factors contribute to a Chinese international student's success. The research is conducted in two phases -the first phase considers the achievement of 40 Chinese international students - half of whom have been through the Foundation Studies programme and half of whom have not - and finds that there is a significant correlation between completing the Foundation Studies programme and academic achievement in undergraduate courses. Reasons for this are explored in the second phase of study through interviews with twenty Chinese international students, ten who have taken the Foundation Studies programme and ten who have not. Some of the explanations found for the difference in achievement are that the Foundation Studies graduates are more confident in using English, are more adjusted to life in New Zealand, and are more prepared for the New Zealand academic environment, having gained essential essaywriting and study skills during the Foundation Studies programme. The main issue raised is the need for institutions to better prepare Chinese international students who gain admission directly into undergraduate programmes before they commence their studies, so that they are more able to succeed in the New Zealand academic environment.