Despite the rise in international education, there is a lack of literature on the domestic student perspective of the international class room. A study by School of Tourism lecturers Lorraine Brown and Steven Richards redresses the balance somewhat. Their paper, The British host: just how welcoming are we?, has just been published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education.
This paper reports findings from a qualitative study of British student attitudes to the presence in large numbers of international students on their tourism management programme. Analysis revealed home students to be empathetic, flexible and eager to learn about new cultures. This mindset was attributed by participants to their desire to work in the international tourism industry and their understanding that tourist satisfaction increases in line with host receptivity. This is shown in the quotes below:
“Studying alongside international students meant that we would get a completely diverse cultural input. The more the merrier!” Bianca
“It was going to be really interesting learning about people’s backgrounds and cultures.” Natalie
“It does change you just in little ways, just in how you are with people, you don’t even realise it at first I don’t think. I guess it taught me that you sort of judge people a bit quick, and that you shouldn’t really.” Laura
“Any prejudices are challenged, and its no bad thing for me and my fellow students to all have to develop some cultural awareness if not sensitivity.” Bianca
The nature of the subject, tourism, has a massive international element to it; if you are doing tourism, you are quite likely to be interested in other cultures.
That employability was increased by exposure to different cultures was commonly stated, as shown in the following typical comments:
“I feel confident that I can go to some of these countries now because I am aware of what to expect, behaviour patterns, culture patterns, I can try some of the skills I have learnt from being here.” Diana
“The main benefit for me is that never before could I imagine working abroad. I would definitely feel more confident now.” John
“I definitely think I could get used to working with different cultures, even if it’s in London! London is going to be multinational and international. You get used to dealing with different cultures, just trying to understand people talking different languages. Now I know that even if at first it might be a bit difficult, you can always communicate and work it out.” Laura
Lorraine and Steve’s study has just received coverage in the Times Higher Education Supplement – http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=419037&c=1