Exploring student diversity: Local and international first year pharmacy students

Ieva Stupans, Elizabeth E. Elliot, Geoff March


The Australian higher education sector has undergone significant changes in the last two decades with a wider and more diverse student population. Although the number of international students commencing in Australian universities is currently in decline, international students contribute to student diversity. The authors of this paper sought to explore aspects of this diversity through use of a questionnaire composed of questions from the literature around learning/instructional design. Questions eliciting responses from international students could be categorised into three groups: those that indicated differences between international and local students at the point of entry and after one year of study; those where responses were initially different, but after one year were similar and; those that were similar at the point of entry for both international and local students. Focus groups of both international and local students provided additional insight into the students’ perceptions of their learning environment. This study is of a relatively small cohort of students, however - some of the unexpected findings such as reports by international students of hostile interactions with other students deserve further interrogation. The critical difference for international students after one year of study is around communication confidence.

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