International students are a fundamental part of the global higher education system providing a critical income stream for many universities but also diversifying and enriching culturally our campuses and the learning experiences of host students. Further, beyond selling the ‘prestige’ of the degree from the host institution, many universities often claim that international study is culturally enriching for the international students also. Or so the argument goes. This UK case study reveals that the reality for international students can be very different by examining the difficulties they face in forming robust cross- and multi-cultural friendships when overseas. In so doing it makes important contributions to the burgeoning networks, and more established transnationalism and mobility studies literatures by reflecting on how we negotiate the unfamiliar and geographically distinctive places through the social networks that we establish there. Principally it aims to overturn previous assertions that distinctive international student networks are the result of liminality and exclusion by showing that they are also a conscious choice made by the students themselves, functioning as an important source of social, cultural and political support when living overseas.
- international student mobility
- higher education transitions
- higher education