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International Students as 'Privileged': Challenging the Narrative

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alina SchartnerORCiD, Dr Samantha Shields



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by North American Business Press, 2023.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2023, North American Business Press. All rights reserved. International students are typically described as a privileged and affluent group. This study challenges this narrative, and examines the experiences of socioeconomically disadvantaged international students, through an exploratory mixed-methods study. To date, there has been limited empirical work recognising heterogeneity in the socioeconomic backgrounds of international students. This paper reports on the quantitative scoping exercise of a self-report questionnaire undertaken by 102 international students studying at UK universities, with 37 per cent identifying as ‘working-class’. The findings indicated that international students identifying as ‘working-class’ were more likely to be undertaking paid employment with longer hours in comparison to their middle-class counterparts. Moreover, ‘satisfaction with life’ and ‘support networks’ were considerably lower for those reporting socio-economic disadvantage. This study has highlighted a lacuna in the international student research literature. Furthermore, the findings indicate universities need to revisit the nexus of research on disadvantaged ‘home’ students and cultural adjustment models to ensure suitable support structures are offered to this under-researched group of international students.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Schartner A, Shields S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice

Year: 2023

Volume: 23

Issue: 11

Pages: 15-31

Online publication date: 14/07/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Date deposited: 07/08/2023

ISSN (print): 2158-3595

Publisher: North American Business Press


DOI: 10.33423/jhetp.v23i11.6215


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