International student transitioning experiences: Student voice

  • Sally Ann Ashton-Hay Southern Cross University
Keywords: international students, first year transition, academic language and learning, English language proficiency, higher education, student voice


As Australian higher education institutions seek to internationalise and increase enrolments of international students, the student experience is crucial for ensuring a sustainable future via delivery of quality learning, development of English language standards and retention of enrolments. This project aimed to capture student voice in order to better understand the early challenges students face, the support they value and the adequacy of current services benchmarked against the Good Practice Principles (GPP) (DEEWR, 2009). With a focus on English language proficiency, a mixed method approach surveyed 140 students across three campuses, followed by focus groups to capture student voice and provide a current snapshot of international student experiences and perceptions. The key findings confirm that international students are challenged with writing, speaking and listening and also that they believed more opportunities to interact using English would benefit them. Another finding indicated the incongruity between prior learning experiences and basic academic literacy skills as well as technology for learning skills. The project found that although the university has taken steps towards meeting the GPP, a broader university-wide approach is needed. Recommendations include providing technology-essentials seminars; embedding opportunities in the curriculum for students to develop communication skills, cultural competence and academic literacy; and increasing collaboration between content staff and academic language and learning specialists. Academic Skills support was one of the university services most valued by international students, and they particularly appreciated team teaching by Academic Skills staff and content lecturers together.

Author Biography

Sally Ann Ashton-Hay, Southern Cross University
Lecturer, Academic Skills Centre for Teaching and Learning
How to Cite
Ashton-HayS. A. (2016). International student transitioning experiences: Student voice. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 10(1), A1-A19. Retrieved from