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'You cannot talk with all of the strangers in a pub': a longitudinal case study of international postgraduate students' social ties at a British university

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


The formation of social ties is a major factor in the international student experience (Ramsay, Jones and Barker 2007), influencing student wellbeing and adjustment to the new academic and sociocultural environment (Ward, Bochner and Furnham, 2001). Although a significant body of research in the international student literature has explored the role of social ties in student adjustment (Maundeni, 2001), there is a lack of studies monitoring student sojourners' social ties longitudinally. This study therefore sought to investigate the dynamics and functions of social ties by tracking a group of international students over one academic year. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted at three time stages with 20 international postgraduate students at a single UK university. The aim was to replicate and extend the Functional Model of Friendship Networks (Bochner, McLeod and Lin, 1977) which suggests that student sojourners typically form three distinct social networks: a co-national network, a host national network, and a non-co-national international network. The data shows evidence for a lack of host contact, reveals complexities associated with co-national contact, and points to the dominance of highly supportive ‘international ties’. Further longitudinal research is called for to further inform our understanding of international students’ social contact patterns over time.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schartner A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Higher Education

Year: 2015

Volume: 69

Issue: 2

Pages: 225-241

Print publication date: 01/02/2015

Online publication date: 04/06/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 15/07/2015

ISSN (print): 0018-1560

ISSN (electronic): 1573-174X

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10734-014-9771-8


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