International students' experiences of taking a language and media studies honours specialisation at a South African university.
Adekunle, Temitope Oluwakemi.
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This study focused on international students’ experiences of taking the Language and Media Honours specialisation and utilised an interpretive paradigm and hermeneutic phenomenology as a theoretical framework. In order to do an in-depth qualitative study of participants’ experiences, a case study research design was employed. Two objectives (to explore international students' experiences of taking a Language and Media Studies Honours Specialisation at a South African University and to consider why international students have such experiences of taking the said specialisation) shaped the study. Eight participants, who were international students who had taken the Language and Media Honours specialisation from 2011-2014, were purposively selected to take part in the study. The qualitative methods of data collection (visual methods, open ended discussions and open ended narratives) were used to collect data from participants. The choice of the hermeneutic phenomenology helped the researcher to interpret the data. It also enabled a broadened understanding of the participants’ experiences as well as offered meaningful insight into their experiences. The research findings indicated that participants’ experiences and the reasons for the experiences were intertwined. The findings revealed that participants had negative experiences with lecturers’ teaching styles, the perceived inefficiency of the international relations office and the lack of funding. There were also difficulties experienced with academic writing, a perceived rigid programme structure, and uneasy relationships with their lecturers and local peers, as well as fellow international students. In addition, they experienced initial confusion, loneliness and language difficulties. On the other hand, the findings revealed that participants had positive experiences of gaining work opportunities, which assisted with their funding problems. In addition, the work opportunities assisted in enabling familiarity with the university. Other positive experiences included making friends from beyond their immediate circles, learning new concepts, and breaking barriers, which helped to acclimatise them to their new setting. Ultimately, the findings indicated that various kinds of support are needed to improve students’ experiences of international study. Such support could assist future international students’ studies and make the institution marketable for students globally.