Paper 9: ‘International academics in UK higher education: What do they bring to the classroom?’
Angela Hammond, Jackie Willis, University of Hertfordshire
While the presence of international students in UK universities is frequently highlighted as providing cultural diversity that enriches the classroom, far less attention has been paid to the contributions made by international academics towards that experience. At the University of Hertfordshire 25% of lecturers and researchers are drawn from 74 different countries. HEA-funded research into their experience and perspectives is seeking to establish the impact they have on the learning experience of students.
The presenters will share initial findings from their research, which has been carried out through questionnaire and focus groups. Differences in expectations of student achievement, the role of the teacher and staff-student relationships are highlighted as examples of where inter-cultural communication can be challenging, as it may be preventing a common understanding of issues that are key to effective learning and teaching.
These clashes of expectations are balanced by the perception from many international staff surveyed that their cultural background gives them a better understanding of the needs of international students and is an asset to be welcomed in the development of the global citizen and their ability to deploy complex intellectual skills.