Language proficiency and the international postgraduate student experience

Weaver, M., 2016. Language proficiency and the international postgraduate student experience. DBA, Nottingham Trent University.

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In an increasingly competitive environment, with reduced government funding, full fee-paying international students are an important source of revenue for higher education institutions (HEIs). Although many previous studies have focused on the role of English language proficiency on academic success, there is little known about the extent to which levels of English language proficiency affect these non-native English speaking students’ overall course experience. There have been a wealth of studies considering the importance of adaptation to these students' academic success, but few studies on the relationship between adaptation and course satisfaction. Student satisfaction and loyalty behaviours have also been established as the main consequences of students' study experiences, with important strategic implications for HEIs as students become ever more discerning in their choice of institution. Although some higher education research has focused on the antecedents to student satisfaction and loyalty, this is an under-researched area, particularly in relation to international students. These gaps in the research were addressed through the development of a structural path model to test the influence of English language proficiency on desired institutional outcomes of satisfaction and loyalty, and the extent to which international students’ successful adaptation to their academic, social and cultural environments affects those desired outcomes. The moderating influence of a number of pre-entry attributes were also considered on the path relationships. Nine hypotheses were posited and tested with data collected from a survey conducted on 135 Masters students in one UK business school. Results were first subjected to factor analysis before the hypothesised model was tested with a structural equation modelling approach using AMOS software. The findings support five of the hypotheses, providing empirical evidence that English language proficiency plays a significant role in international students’ satisfaction with their course experience, as mediated by academic and social adaptation. Loyalty intentions are also indirectly affected by English language proficiency through satisfaction. In addition, results confirm that there are differences in the relational paths between international students who complete a pre-sessional course compared to direct entrants, and between collectivist and individualist cultural groups. This study gives important insights into the influence of English language proficiency on student satisfaction and loyalty. Gaining a more comprehensive knowledge of the dimensions which are important to postgraduates, both international and from the UK, is important for HEIs to continue to pursue a competitive advantage. In particular, by understanding the drivers of international students’ satisfaction and loyalty, HEIs will be in a much better position to develop strategies which promote and foster loyalty behaviours, which are so important in generating future revenue opportunities.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Weaver, M.
Date: March 2016
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 16 Aug 2016 13:53
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2016 13:53

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