International Students: Interpersonal, Institutional and Community Impacts

Published 2006. Contact: Colleen Ward


This research considers interpersonal, institutional and community impacts of international students in educational, social and cultural domains.

Research is patchy, and most studies on internationalisation have been conducted from the perspective of overseas students. Far less is known about the viewpoints of either domestic students or members of the receiving community. In addition, social, cultural and educational impacts have been more frequently studied in interpersonal and classroom settings, rather than in institutional and community contexts.


On the whole, research suggests that:

  • international students expect and desire contact with their domestic peers
  • local students are often willing to engage in greater interaction
  • the frequency of contact between international and domestic students is low
  • institutional interventions are required to remedy the situation.

In the classroom context, a large body of research has discussed cultural differences in teaching and learning styles, but noted relatively few changes in classroom processes or curriculum content.

Professional training and skills development have been identified as priority needs for teachers in multicultural classrooms. Within the wider institution, the advantages and disadvantages of internationalisation have been considered, and commonly cited concerns regarding service usage and academic performance are discussed. At the community level, social integration is examined with particular attention to prejudice and discrimination and the role of home stays in fostering social cohesion.

Finally, strategic interventions, e.g. peer-pairing, cooperative learning, residential programmes and training packages, are reviewed as means of maximising the benefits of internationalisation. Further research is recommended and directions suggested for New Zealand to establish evidence-based practice in policy and programme development.

You can read the full report here.