Quality pastoral care is crucial for successful integration: A case study of school practices

Manaia Chou-Lee1

1 University of Auckland, School of Education and Social Work, Auckland, New Zealand.  Email: research@chou-lee.com

The increasing demand for tertiary education, combined with reduced transport and communication costs, and a need for skilled people in an internationalised labour market has led to a significant rise in student mobility. As a response, New Zealand has increased marketing strategies overseas and adapted nationwide policies to encourage further growth in export education services to provide economic, social and cultural benefits to society. Therefore, international student numbers have risen considerably also resulting in an increase of qualified students wanting to migrate permanently. These activities have created, and will continue to create, an even more diverse society requiring a more prominent need for integration of international students, into host communities and schools, to shape an environment that is congruent to the needs of all those involved.

International students will face cultural and psychological change upon arrival in New Zealand.  This change can be conceptualised as the acculturation process. Accordingly, students will develop a particular acculturation strategy – separation, integration, marginalisation, or assimilation – dependent on how well they participate, or are invited to participate, in two essential issues: forming relationships with other groups in society and maintaining their heritage culture. Research has shown that the individual acculturation strategy of integration will help international students adapt better to the various transitions they encounter in a new country as well as prove more beneficial for a host country embracing a multicultural society.

In this study, data were collected from 131 international students and 24 teachers, at an international secondary school in New Zealand, to investigate school practices affecting integration of international students. Analysis identified five areas of best practice, which will aid in policy realisation and support integration: the homestay, the role of the teacher/tutor, group work, education and activities outside the classroom, and Orientation. The majority of these areas fall under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016. Therefore, evidence from this study suggests that pastoral care practices must be implemented at a high level and will require further improvement at micro and macro levels in New Zealand society in order to foster successful integration of international students.

Key words: International students, integration, pastoral care, acculturation, best practice


Manaia Chou-Lee has 15 years experience in the field of secondary school education and has taught international students both in New Zealand and overseas. In addition, she has held middle and senior management positions where a key part of her role was academic counselling and pastoral care of international students and minority groups. She is passionate about the well-being of international students and is planning to continue her current research into PhD study.

Intercultural communication competence – a University of Waikato Management School case study

Andrea Perry1

1 University of Waikato, Private bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

As our globalized world shrinks diverse cultures are in closer contact than ever before and the ability to communicate across cultural diversity, to build relationships and to achieve shared goals, is becoming a necessity in daily life. Increasing cultural diversity is represented in the NZ tertiary education context however, a significant proportion of all students are un-engaged in curriculum that supports the development of international relationships (Education Counts, 2016).

The discrepancy between the presence of cultural diversity and the absence of intentional development of international capability presents us with a challenge. How can we support the development of inter-culturally competent graduates and in fact what does intercultural competence mean in a NZ tertiary context? Evidence from students and staff calls us to do things differently. Positive interaction between international and domestic students in and outside of the classroom requires the removing of segregation and enhancing community. It also means addressing lack of willingness to interact and learn across cultures, and focusing on ongoing English language development. This paper presents some evidence based suggestions for developing intercultural communication competence for all students.


Andrea Perry has worked as an International Student Advisor at the University of Waikato since 2011. She has previous work experience in Jordan and her commitment is to the success of Middle Eastern students in NZ. Andrea has just completed her Master of Management Studies with a research project on what it means for graduates of the Management School to be inter-culturally competent.

Culture matters: How to develop intercultural competency in New Zealand organisations

Shireen Chua1

1 Third Culture Solutions Ltd, 39 Hendry Avenue, Hillsborough, Auckland 1042, shireen@thirdculture.co.nz

Globalisation has lead to our workplaces, universities, neighbourhoods to become increasingly ethnically and racially diverse in Aoteroa, New Zealand.  This diversity will bring increased challenges in understanding one other, building trust and working together.  However, it will also bring many opportunities.  Harnessed diversity increases creativity and innovation.

Intercultural competency is becoming an essential skill and competency not only for students and graduates but in all facets of interaction and relationship building.  Work teams are now becoming diverse.  In order to work well together, managers and team members need to understand each other, and thrive.  For those seeking to market their product, service and organisation internationally, understanding how their potential customer will interpret their information and communication will be critical to any potential deal.  Those being seconded for expatriate assignment also require training to negotiate cultures.  Cultural Intelligence is intercultural competency applied to a wider context, encompassing all aspects of culture that includes organisational culture.

This presentation will report on the research findings of a business research project undertaken as part of the author’s MBA study in 2015.  Through a comprehensive literature review and a small number of semi-structured interviews of several managers of New Zealand organisations, this report identifies the themes from the interview and the current research evidence to answer the research question of how New Zealand organisations can develop intercultural competency within their organisations.  The findings of this research has a wide range of applications both for New Zealand organisations addressing the diversity within their organisations, but also in all aspects of the business of running the organisation, from marketing, business development to HR.  The findings of this will be particularly relevant in New Zealand’s billion dollar International Education market, where this competency will be critical in the marketing of New Zealand’s Education Sector, the orientation and pastoral care needs of international students, as well as organisations that have any interaction whether it is teaching, hosting students or handling the administrative aspects in this sector.

Key Words: Cross Cultural Competency, Intercultural Competency Training, Cultural Intelligence, Diversity Training, Globalisation, Organisational Cultural Intelligence


Shireen Chua is the Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.  Through her background in research and management of multicultural themes, she completed a research project in her MBA in looking at organisational intercultural competency and specifically culturally intelligent solutions.  She has a training and consulting business that looks to address the diversity with fit-for-purpose solutions.  She is a certified Advanced Cultural Intelligence (CQ) trainer.  She has facilitated workshops for small and large organisations in the area of intercultural competency and cultural intelligence.

Expectations and challenges of returning Saudi International student

Naif Daifullah Z Alsulami1

1 Umm Al-Qura University, Mecca, Saudi Arabia & Monash University. Melbourne, Australia

This paper is part of a doctoral study seeking to gain an in-depth understanding of how returning Saudi international students experience their re-entry to Saudi Arabia and why they have such experiences. The doctoral study aimed at knowing the impact of overseas studies programs on the lives of returning Saudis and identifying if the huge investment into education via a scholarship program (King Abdul Abdullah Scholarship Program) has brought positive impacts on the lives of returning Saudis. The literature review related to this doctoral study revealed that although many studies have focused on the adjustment issues experienced by Saudi international students in the host culture, the re-adjustment issues experienced after returning home have been under-researched. The participants of this qualitative study were 13 male and 8 female Saudis who spent about one to six years living in some English speaking countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, undertaking postgraduate studies. Preliminary findings from the interviews with the participants show that student expectations play a crucial role in the re-entry transition. None of the students had anticipated a need to re-adjust to their home culture, and friends and family had also assumed a smooth homecoming. Consequently, the returning students experienced unexpected challenges without much support from their home culture. These challenges included personal, cultural, educational, social and professional difficulties, as well as problems with their children. The gap between expectations and reality was a source of frustration for some participants, making re-adapting to their home country more difficult.


Niaf Daifullah Z Alsulami has a Master of Education specialising in international education from Monash University in 2014. He has started his PhD candidature from 2014 at Monash. Between 2010 -2012 he worked at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca as a teaching assistant and researcher. Naif is an experienced teacher and researcher. He has experience as a qualitative researcher.

Using focused ethnography to understand brokering practices among international students

Sherrie Lee1

1 University of Waikato, Faculty of Education, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

The academic challenges of international students, particularly those with English as an additional language (EAL), have been mostly researched in the context of the formal curriculum (e.g. classroom communication styles, reading and writing skills). These challenges include inadequate English proficiency and differing educational expectations (Johnson 2008; Lee, Farruggia and Brown 2013), and being isolated from the host community (Sawir et al. 2008; Ward and Masgoret 2004). However, little is understood about students’ informal academic learning outside the prescribed curriculum, in particular, their brokering practices. Brokering practices are help-seeking interactions that bridge gaps in the seekers’ knowledge and understanding of new cultural practices thus enabling them to access resources they would find difficult to do so on their own. For EAL students, these help-seeking interactions may involve getting others to translate, interpret or explain particular aspects of the host academic environment. In this research, focused ethnography (Knoblauch 2005) is used to investigate the nature of brokering practices among ten international EAL tertiary students during their initial academic semester of fifteen weeks. Focused ethnography specifically addresses constraints in the research context (e.g. time and access to informants), as well as capitalizes on technological tools such as digital recording devices. In seeking to understand brokering interactions and relationships students have with their brokers, conventional ethnographic methods were adapted, for example, digital ethnographic methods (Pink et al. 2015) were used instead of participant observation. Digital ethnographic methods allows a large amount of data to be recorded and reviewed, a feature of focused ethnography known as data intensity. While this form of intensity has been argued to compensate for a short period of research activity, this research suggests that another form of intensity – relational intensity – is just as important in addressing research constraints. Relational intensity refers to the researcher’s ongoing responsiveness to the needs of research participants. The paper concludes that future focused ethnographic research should consider both data-related and relational forms of intensity in addressing research constraints.


Sherrie Lee is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato. Her research focuses on academic learning practices of international students using an ethnographic approach. She is also the President of the Postgraduate Students’ Association and a member of the Academic Board at the university. She was formerly a business communications lecturer at a polytechnic in Singapore. She completed her Master of Arts in Teaching (TESOL) at the University of Southern California. In her previous research, she examined the identity of an English learner as influenced by competing discourses and social relationships.

Negotiating exclusion in a digital age: Everyday social media practices among Chinese student-migrants in Australia

Xinyu Zhao1

1 School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria 3125, xzhao@deakin.edu.au

This research examines the intersection of social media practices and everyday experiences of social exclusion and inclusion in Australia. Specifically, it interrogates how the Chinese student-migrants in Australia, as a particular group of “temporary” migrants, adjust, negotiate and challenge their experiences of exclusion through the use of social media in their daily lives. Recent scholarship on the connections between emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social exclusion problematizes the often over-optimistic conclusions that foresee a future of social inclusion through access to technology; instead, it argues for the varied ways people use these new technologies and the contingent social implications they generate. This research, therefore, focuses on the complex ways Chinese student-migrants integrate social media into their everyday lives in Australia and the subsequent impacts on their experiences of social exclusion and inclusion in different aspects of life.

Theoretically, the study adopts a practice-based approach towards social media, which places specific focus on people’s actual “online doings”. It calls for a contextualization of social media practices through the everyday experiences of social exclusion and inclusion and for a further exploration of the social implications of these practices on daily life. Methodologically, digital ethnographic methods, including online participant observation, photography and in-depth interviews, are adopted to seek a holistic and nuanced understanding of the role of social media in the Chinese student-migrants’ lived experiences in Australia.

Keywords: Chinese student-migrants, social media, social exclusion, social inclusion, practice, everyday life, digital ethnography


Xinyu Zhao is a PhD student at Deakin University. His research interest lies in the intersection of transnational student migration, social ex/inclusion and new media. Educated in China, Xinyu received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Renmin University of China where he was a member of the Australian Studies Centre for three years during which he organised and participated in events promoting Australian literacy in China and enhancing China-Australia relations. He was a participant and Foundation for Australian Studies Fellow at the 2014 Australia China Youth Dialogue. He is now Partnerships Director at the Australian Federation of International Students.

Exploring the elusive shape of service outcomes: Reflections on evaluating learning advice services

Kirsten Reid1, Xiaodan Gao2

1 Student Learning, Victoria University of Wellington, P O Box 600, Wellington 6140, Kirsten.reid@vuw.ac.nz
2 Student Learning, Victoria University of Wellington, P O Box 600, Wellington 6140, Xiaodan.gao@vuw.ac.nz

As part of good practice and for the purpose of continual improvement of service quality, Student Learning at Victoria University of Wellington regularly conducts service and programme evaluations. These include the end of year Student Learning Survey and bi-annual peer observations and tend to focus on student satisfaction and/or perceptions of our services and programmes. In response to the New Zealand government’s call for tertiary education institutions (TEIs) to report on “the services the TEI is providing, how well it is providing them, and the effects of the services on the student community (impacts/outcomes)” (Office of the Auditor-General, 2012, p.28) we have been looking at ways in which we can carry out evaluation beyond that of student numbers and satisfaction.  This is not a straightforward task. As Alach (2015, p.1) notes, the value and validity of methods and practices of performance measurement in higher education are the subject of much debate.  This paper reflects on our journey to date to re-define and re-design our evaluations so they allow us to more effectively measure our service outcomes and the possible impact on students.


Alach, Z. (2015). Performance measurement and accountability in higher education: The puzzle of qualification completions. Tertiary Education and Management. DOI:10.1080/13583883.2015.1122828.

Office of the Auditor-General. (2012). Education sector: Results of the 2011 audits. Wellington, New Zealand: Office of the Auditor-general.


Xiaodan Gao works with students at all levels. Her research interests include international education, transition for international postgraduate students and cross-cultural communication.

Kirsten Reid is a Senior Learning Advisor at Victoria University of Wellington. She works mainly with postgraduate and undergraduate international students and has a particular interest in academic writing and oral presentations. She is also interested in supporting students from refugee backgrounds.

Evaluating academic skills support for International students: Individual appointment, non-credit workshop or for-credit success course

Sheilagh Grills1

1 Brandon University, 270-18th Street, Brandon, Manitoba, R7A 6A9, grillssh@brandonu.ca  

This session will report on the outcomes for first-year international students receiving learning skills assistance through appointments, group workshops or a Success Course.  Transition programming aims to increase student retention by providing services on the basis of individual as well as situational characteristics.  Evidence based practice in international education services includes an examination of the impact of the mode of delivery of academic support. This longitudinal study will report on the academic performance and persistence rates for traditional and international students using learning skills services at a primarily undergraduate Canadian institution during the intake years 2005-2011.

Academic support services are centred on student learning research and approaches to learning and studying (Biggs, 1987). Faculty expect students to be self-directed, yet first-year learners may not yet have been challenged nor experienced negative consequences for a lack of perseverance (Côté & Allahar, 2007). In some cases, students may need to “unlearn” previous surface approaches to learning (Baeten et al, 2010) that served them well in their home institutions.  Learning skills support can also help with the disparity between the target understandings of instructors and the actual understandings reached by students (Entwistle, McCune & Hounsell, 2002). In the current study, all three modes of delivery for academic support provide direct instruction for fundamental learning strategies with the goal of increased self-regulation of learning or metacognition (Boer, Donker & van der Werf, 2014). Conley (2010) lists academic behaviour or self-management as one of the four dimensions of readiness for tertiary education, while metacognitive knowledge requires students to transfer any newly learned strategies to other settings often through extensive practice (Hofer, Yu & Pintrich, 1998; Kenyon, 2016).

There are clear differences in the required institutional resources for the three models of academic support in this investigation.  Individual appointments or one-on-one sessions with a learning coach require greater staffing but resulted in higher overall retention rates, and higher credit hours attempted than group modes of delivery for traditional students (Grills, 2009). Non-credit workshops in ‘study skills’ tend to be relatively superficial treatments covering single issues, and student engagement in a non-credit setting may not be sufficient to motivate those who need to practice the skills discussed in a workshop.  While more expedient than individual appointments, workshops may not address the more intensive needs of international students.  Success Courses differ from other academic assistance in that they are a credit-bearing, long-term way to teach a variety of transferable learning strategies.  Learning framework or Success Courses have resulted in higher retention and academic performance for traditional students (Brock et al, 2007; Hodges, Dochen & Sellers, 2001) but may be viewed as cost-prohibitive or lacking academic rigour.  Additionally, the intensive nature of a semester length critical thinking course may be more than required for “accentuating” learners (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1979).  This paper will expand prior research to explore effective academic support for international students, and provide evidence based measures for developing and improving transitional support for a diverse student population.


Sheilagh Grills is a Learning Skills Specialist at Brandon University on the Canadian prairies, working to help students learn how to learn. Brandon University is a small, primarily undergraduate institution with an open-admissions policy for the general arts and science degree programs and a low international student tuition rate. The Academic Skills Centre offers a broad range of support services to assist students to become more efficient learners, equipped with greater confidence, motivation and skill.