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Posted on April 5th, 2012, by

21st Century Issues for Adult, Vocational and Higher Education

The success of the adaptation process of students in educational activities and social environment encourages students, as the impact of their intellectual activity, enhances the overall vitality and maintains high efficiency.  In addition, successful adaptation of students in international environment essentially determines the motivation, character and efficiency of training activities for the students.  The study of psychological aspects of adaptation in education is associated mainly with the study of external and internal factors to adapt to tertiary education, in particular, to such of its fundamental components, as cognitive activities and interpersonal interactions.  This involves the allocation of didactic (teaching) and psycho-social (communicative) adaptation.

Many foreigners at universities face the challenges, new experience and different issues.  A distinctive feature of the Australian education market is its consolidation.  Educational institutions merged to form large and small educational corporations.  For foreign students it is beneficial that within each of these associations, they can study various courses, and to get translation from one to another and to do that without any additional exams, as described in Relevance for Higher Education.  Thus, having entered a time without examination by an English language course, a person can reach a bachelor’s degree within a single structure.  Since there is a structure with the different composition of the components, it allows realizing any, even the most ambitious plans.

The state in its basis, the Australian education system is built on the British model.  Today the country has 40 universities, more than 450 colleges with an enrollment of more than one million students and about 550 centers teaching English.  Taken together, these institutions offer courses that can satisfy all the demands of training.

Recently, the education system, introducing the combination of English and partly in the American scheme of education, includes unique Australian training schemes for foreign students at colleges and universities, as stated in Higher education.

Today, the country has 38 public and two private universities.  In these studies, total of the students in these universities is 700 thousand, including students of daytime, evening and correspondence courses.  The most popular specialties are those, related to the business and the economy.  More than half of foreign students come to learn exactly these specialties.  After them follows the natural, human and social science, art, and then – engineering and technological specialties.  At many universities there are also preparatory departments (Foundation Programs).  This is a bridge between secondary education obtained in foreign educational institutions, and teaching at a university in Australia.  They provide foreign applicants knowledge and skills necessary for successful education in the university.

Feature of the preparatory office in Australia is that universities reserve in advance for their audience places in the first year.  Admission to the preparatory department is carried out twice a year – at the beginning and at the middle of the year (sometimes three times).  For admission a person must have high school diploma and a good knowledge of English (at the level of 6.0 for IELTS and 550-570 points on the TOEFL).  Bachelor’s degree in Australia is received during 3 years, except for seeking knowledge in medicine, law, engineering and natural sciences. Masters programs are designed for 1-2 years depending on specialization.

And, as stated by Nesdale & Todd, objectives of internationalization of university education cannot be achieved unless students themselves are fully committed to developing cross-cultural awareness, and willingly inclined to engage in inter-cultural interactions.   As a fact, the distinction between home and international students may be considered to be too general when it is considered that both these groups are far from homogenous.

Nowadays, the positioning of international students reflects the ambivalence that universities feel towards them.  For many, international students are simultaneously a source

of contempt because of their inadequate English language skills, resentment and, paradoxically, anxiety.  There is the need to confront the inappropriate conflation of fee-paying with international student status, the caricature of international students that was constructed through the discourses, and the valorization of a form of academic identity within which academics surrendered their agency.

The difficulties identified by Korean students have been discussed in terms of difficulties in the areas of language, relationships with teachers and peers, and educational conventions, as stated by Myonghee Choi in Higher Education Research & Development- Korean Students in Australian Universities: Intercultural Issues.  Their difficulties are attributed not only to their personal lack of language competence and study skills, but also to their Australian teachers’ and peers’ lack of understanding of these difficulties in the educational context.  Culturally different teacher-student relationships, and institutional environments and constraints also play a major part.

Korean students are more likely to have difficulties in speaking, joining the class discussion and developing constant, mutual relationships with teachers and peers.  It is difficult to adapt to the certain rules and regulations of the society and to try to become a part of this society.  There is a lot of criticism the international students face, which then makes them suffer and, consequently, they become insecure.  International students are also likely to suffer culture shock more severely in the classroom situation.  Therefore there are some strategies and support programs which are able to promote more effective teaching and learning for Korean students.  As a fact, concerted and reciprocal effort by all concerned should lead to better intercultural understanding and communication as well as a more rewarding academic partnership.  The strategies and programs suggested could be equally useful in promoting intercultural understanding and communication with students of other ethnic backgrounds.  In other words, Korean students are potentially valuable human resources in the decision-making processes of Korea and Australia.  Their experiences in Australia could contribute to effective relationships between the two countries, providing a better understanding of Australia, Australian attitudes and values, as stated in 21st Century Trends for Higher Education.  Students’ difficulties must be dealt with by educators and researchers at the level of multicultural education, international cultural and educational exchange and interdependent long-term relationships between the two countries.

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