Skip to main content

Academic Integration of Chinese Students in Finland and Germany: A Comparative Perspective

Abstract

It has been recognized that international students studying in non-Anglophone countries face more challenges in integrating into local higher education institutions for a number of reasons, such as the local language barrier and cultural differences. This study aims to understand the challenges and coping strategies of academic integration in non-Anglophone countries from the students’ perceptive, taking Chinese students as an example and using a qualitative approach based on semi-structured interviews with 58 Chinese students in Germany and Finland. It shows that, despite learning environment differences between Finland and Germany, Chinese students face similar challenges, including individual ones, such as the mismatch between their academic background and learning requirements, or contextual ones, such as a lack of consideration for international students in the pedagogical approach and curriculum design adopted by the host higher education institutions. The results challenge the existing stereotype of Chinese students and present evidence of students’ resourcefulness in generating novel approaches to develop their learning capabilities. It also shows that traditional learning techniques may be used as pathways to achieving deep learning and understanding.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Andrade, M. S. (2006). International student persistence: Integration or cultural integrity? Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8(1), 57–81. https://doi.org/10.2190/9my5-256h-vfva-8r8p

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Auyeung, P., & Sands, J. (1996). A cross cultural study of the learning style of accounting students. Accounting & Finance, 36(2), 261–274. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-629X.1996.tb00310.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bian, C. (2013). Study abroad as self-development: An analysis of international students’ experience in China and France. Frontiers of Education in China, 8(3), 448–477. doi: 10.3868/s110-002-013-0028-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bers, T. H., & Smith, K. E. (1991). Persistence of community college students: The influence of student intent and academic and social integration. Research in Higher Education, 32(5), 539–556. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992627

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2008). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Cai, Y. Z. (2012). International graduates from Finland: Do they satisfy the needs of Finnish employers abroad? Journal of Research in International Education, 11(1), 19–31. https://doi.org/10.1177/1475240911434340

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Cai, Y. Z. (2013). Graduate employability: A conceptual framework for understanding employers’ perceptions. Higher Education, 65(4), 457–469. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-012-9556-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cai, Y. Z. (2014). Enhancing overseas Chinese graduate employability: The case of Chinese graduates with Finnish academic qualifications. Frontiers of Education in China, 9(3), 377–402. doi: https://doi.org/10.3868/s110-003-014-0031-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. CIMO. (2018). Statistics on foreign degree students in Finnish higher education institutions in 2016 (6B/2017). Retrieved from http://cimo.fi/instancedata/prime_product_julkaisu/cimo/embeds/cimowwwstructure/165112_FactsExpress6B_2017.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cortazzi, M., & Jin, L. (1997). Communication for learning across cultures. In D. Mc Namara & R. Harris (Eds.), Overseas students in higher education: Issues in teaching and learning (pp. 76–90). London, UK: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Durkin, K. (2008). The adaptation of East Asian masters students to western norms of critical thinking and argumentation in the UK. Intercultural Education, 19(1), 15–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/14675980701852228

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Ennis, R. H. (1996). Critical thinking dispositions: Their nature and acceseability. Informal Logic, 18(2). https://doi.org/10.22329/i1.v18i2,2378

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hampden-Turner, C. M., & Trompenaars, F. (2008). Building cross-cultural competence: How to create wealth from conflicting values. London, UK: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hannan, A. (2007). Interviews in education research. Retrieved from http://cecs6200.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/69409200/Using%20Interviews%20in%20Education%20Research.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kelle, U. (2010). The development of categories: Different approaches in grounded theory. In A. Bryant & C. Kathy (Eds.), The Sage handbook of grounded theory (Vol. 2, pp. 191–213). London, UK: SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kember, D. (2000). Misconceptions about the learning approaches, motivation and study practices of Asian students. Higher Education, 40(1), 99–121. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1004036826490

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Kennedy, P. (2002). Learning cultures and learning styles: Myth-understandings about adult (Hong Kong) Chinese learners. International journal of lifelong education, 21(5), 430–445. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370210156745

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Kettle, M. (2005). Agency as discursive practice: From “nobody” to “somebody” as an international student in Australia. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 25(1), 45–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/02188790500032525

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing (3rd ed.). Thousands Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Li, G., Chen, W., & Duanmu, J.-L. (2010). Determinants of international students’ academic performance: A comparison between Chinese and other international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(4), 389–405. https://doi.org/10.1177/10283/5309331490

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Li, H. W. (2017). Academic integration of mainland Chinese Students in Germany. Social Indusion, 5(1), 80–92. https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v5i1.824

    Google Scholar 

  22. Li, H. W., & Pitkänen, P. (2018). Understanding the integration of mainland Chinese students: The case of Finland. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 8(2), 107–115. https://doi.org/10.1515/njmr-2018-0008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Mannan, M. A. (2007). Student attrition and academic and social integration: Application of Tinto’s model at the University of Papua New Guinea. Higher Education, 53(2), 147–165. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-005-2496-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Marginson, S. (2013). Student self-formation in international education. Journal of Studies in International Education, 18(1), 6–22. https://doi.org/10.1177/1028315313513036

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Meng, Q., Zhu, C., & Cao, C. (2018). Chinese international students’ social connectedness, social and academic adaptation: The mediating role of global competence. Higher Education, 75(1), 131–147. https://doi.org/1007/s10734-017-0129-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Ministry of Education. (MoE). (2018). 2017 sees increase in number of Chinese students studying abroad and returning after overseas studies. Retrieved from http://en.moe.gov.cn/News/Top_News/201804/t20180404_332354.html

    Google Scholar 

  27. Nield, K. (2009). The problems of applying labels of learning style to national cultures. International Journal of Learning, 16(7), 425–434.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Ozer, S. (2015). Predictors of international students’ psychological and sociocultural adjustment to the context of reception while studying at Aarhus University, Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56(6), 717–725. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12258

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Rienties, B., Beausaert, S., Grohnert, T., Niemantsverdriet, S., & Kommers, P. (2012). Understanding academic performance of international students: The role of ethnicity, academic and social integration. Higher Education, 63(6), 685–700. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-011-9468-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Rienties, B., Luchoomun, D., & Tempelaar, D. (2014). Academic and social integration of Master students: A cross-institutional comparison between Dutch and international students. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51(2), 130–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2013.771973

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ryan, J. (2011). Teaching and learning for international students: Towards a transcultural approach. Teachers and Teaching, 17(6), 631–648. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2011.625138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Sayers, J., & Franklin, T. (2008). Culture shock! Cultural issues in a tertiary course using reflective techniques. Reflective Practice, 9(1), 79–88. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623940701816675

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative content analysis in practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Severiens, S. E., & Schmidt, H. G. (2009). Academic and social integration and study progress in problem based learning. Higher Education, 58(1), 59–69. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-008-9181-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Silverman, D. (2006). Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analyzing talk, text and interaction (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Skyrme, G. (2014). Being Chinese or being different: Chinese undergraduates’ use of discourses of Chineseness. Frontiers of Education in China, 9(3), 303–326. doi: 10.3868/s110003-014-0028-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Strohschneider, S., & Güss, D. (1999). The fate of the Moros: A cross-cultural exploration of strategies in complex and dynamic decision making. International Journal of Psychology, 34(4), 235–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/002075999399873

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Terenzini, P. T., & Pascarella, E. T. (1977). Voluntary freshman attrition and patterns of social and academic integration in a university: A test of a conceptual model. Research in Higher Education, 6(1), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00992014

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Thayer-Bacon, B. J. (1993). Caring and its relationship to critical thinking. Educational Theory, 43(3), 323–340. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-5446.1993.00323.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Thornberg, R., & Charmaz, K. (2014). Grounded theory and theoretical coding. In U. Flick (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative data analysis (pp. 153-169). London, UK: SAGE Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of educational research, 45(1), 89–125. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543045001089

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Tinto, V. (1997). Classrooms as communities: Exploring the educational character of student persistence. Journal of higher education, 68(6), 599–623. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.1997.11779003

    Google Scholar 

  43. Valle, R. C., Normandeau, S., & Gonzalez, G. R. (2015). Education at a glance interim report: Update of employment and educational attainment indicators. Paris: OECD.

    Google Scholar 

  44. de Vita, G. (2001). Learning styles, culture and inclusive instruction in the multicultural classroom: A business and management perspective. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(2), 165–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703290110035437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Wissenschaft Weltoffen. (2018). Wissenschaft weltoffen kompakt 2018. Retrieved from http://www.wissenschaftweltoffen.de/kompakt/wwo2018_kompakt_en.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  46. Wu, Q. (2015). Re-examining the “Chinese learner”: A case study of mainland Chinese students’ learning experiences at British universities. Higher Education, 70(4), 753–766. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-015-9865-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Yuen, C.-C., & Lee, S. N. (1994). Applicability of the learning style inventory in an Asian context and its predictive value. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 54(2), 541–549. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164494054002029

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Zhou, J., & Cole, D. (2017). Comparing international and American students: Involvement in college life and overall satisfaction. Higher Education, 73(5), 655–672. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-016-9982-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Zhu, G. (2017). “The Monkey King meets the Spiderman”: Narrative inquiry into Chinese students’ academic socialization experiences in a U.S. university. Frontiers of Education in China, 12(1), 98–119. doi: https://doi.org/10.3868/s110-006-017-0006-6

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hanwei Li.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Li, H. Academic Integration of Chinese Students in Finland and Germany: A Comparative Perspective. Front Educ China 14, 234–256 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0012-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Chinese students
  • academic integration
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • higher education