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Adaptation of Domestic and International Students at English-medium Instruction Programs to University Culture

Student: Anatolii Kolesov

Supervisor: Natalia Volkova

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Sociology and Social Informatics (Bachelor)

Final Grade: 10

Year of Graduation: 2021

The study explores adaptation experiences of students and compares the levels of academic and social integration as well as perceptions of the existing university culture and preferences for it between domestic and international students in a university with English mediated instruction (EMI) in Russia. The study utilized mixed methods research design, with 102 online survey responses and 21 semi-structured interviews with students. Survey data were compared with the use of t-test for independent and paired samples, interview transcripts were analyzed via qualitative content analysis method. Interview findings revealed a number of adaptation drivers and challenges for both Russian and international students. Strong academic orientation and instruction, organizational culture combining efficiency and competitiveness with friendliness and mentoring, and student friendship networks were identified as adaptation drivers, while challenges included insufficiently organized introduction of EMI, lower social integration, and inconsistencies between stated culture and the actual practices. The results of the survey analysis show that the level of academic integration is significantly higher that the level of social integration for both domestic and international students, while the perceptions of the existing university culture and preferences for it differ in several aspects. The results of this study are discussed with reference to the international research in internationalization and EMI education. Several practical implications, including provision of all the necessary information and opportunities for social activities equally in Russian and in English, and promotion of participation in extracurricular activities among all students are suggested.

Full text (added May 24, 2021)

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