Lifting international student success through contextualised foundation studies

  • Philippa Crombie Research Office, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Tauranga 3112, New Zealand
  • Cath Jane Fraser Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Keywords: international students, transition, study skills


Creating opportunities for, and expectations of success as a benchmark for students to live up to, can be prophetic. This paper recounts the experience of a pilot study with international students who were accepted for entry into Diploma level programmes, despite a lower International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score than is usually accepted. Students participated in an accelerated and built-in Foundation study skills pathway before joining both domestic, and international direct-entry peers who had begun with a higher IELTS score. A mixed-methods evaluation was conducted to compare the transition, success and outcomes of students who completed the International Foundation Pathway (IFP) entry with direct entry and domestic students. Results from eight Engineering and four Quantity Surveying courses showed that in at least half, IFP students’ average grade was equal or ahead of direct entry and/or domestic students. Teachers saw no discernible difference between the progress of the two groups of international students in their class, and students shared stories of confidence, satisfaction, and leadership. Yet, although every participant involved in this evaluation was enthusiastic about the benefits afforded by the IFP programmes, a number of barriers were identified alongside the proven enabling strategies. These findings have enabled the home institute to develop additional guidelines around transition, success and outcomes for international students, shared here in the hope that they will resonate beyond the boundaries of our own small, first pilot.

Author Biography

Cath Jane Fraser, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Research Leader & Education Consultant Research Office
How to Cite
CrombieP., & FraserC. J. (2018). Lifting international student success through contextualised foundation studies. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 12(2), A130-A148. Retrieved from
Research Articles