Experiences of International Students at a Canadian University

Barriers and Supports


  • Edward Howe Thompson Rivers University
  • Gloria Ramirez Thompson Rivers University
  • Patrick Walton Thompson Rivers University




Canada, international students, internationalization, barriers, supports


Universities in Canada are increasingly attracting international students, but few studies have examined their experiences. This research identified the key supports and barriers for international students in order to make policy-relevant recommendations. This convergent mixed-methods study combined survey (n = 104) and interview (n = 14) data to investigate international student experiences through the lens of international students. Exploratory factor analyses revealed writing and mathematics skills and relationships with faculty and students as key factors for success. Frequency analyses revealed that racism was a persistent barrier. Assistance, access, diversity and equity issues were also raised. Open and axial coding of qualitative data corroborated these findings and revealed three dimensions of internationalization according to international students’ perspectives: Exchange; Understanding, Sharing, and Support; and Transformation. Recommendations to universities included offering bursaries to international students from underrepresented regions, developing intercultural awareness of faculty, and providing program-specific student support centres with peer mentors.


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Author Biographies

Edward Howe, Thompson Rivers University

Edward Howe, PhD is Professor at Thompson Rivers University.

Gloria Ramirez, Thompson Rivers University

Gloria Ramirez, PhD is a Professor at Thompson Rivers University. 

Patrick Walton, Thompson Rivers University

Patrick Walton, PhD is Professor Emeritus at Thompson Rivers University.


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How to Cite

Howe, E., Ramirez, G., & Walton, P. (2023). Experiences of International Students at a Canadian University: Barriers and Supports. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 15(2), 115–133. https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v15i2.4819



Empirical Article