Integrating international students: the missing link in Portuguese higher education institutions
This paper analyses the strategies employed by two Portuguese institutions to integrate international students as well as these students’ perceptions of their social and academic integration, based on semi-structured interviews with institutional top and middle managers and focus groups with international students. Our findings suggest that institutional strategies are still scarce, ad-hoc and misarticulated. The analysed measures are not sufficiently coordinated and efficient in ensuring a positive experience for international students. The creation of an international unit to cater for their needs stands out as a critical step to take. Surprisingly, language emerges as an issue for the integration of students from Portuguese-speaking countries, who need to become ‘visible’ in terms of institutional measures. The paper reflects on some practical implications for institutions in order to improve the social and academic integration of international students.
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