Communication challenges : an exploratory study of international students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
Maharajh, Maroonisha (Meryl)
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Globalization is impacting on education worldwide. As a result, the University of KwaZulu- Natal (UKZN), like other universities worldwide, have identified an opportunity to increase their profit margins by expanding their marketing initiatives internationally in order to recruit foreign students. The purpose of conducting this study was to investigate the sustainability of UKZN’s Student Exchange Programme in an increasingly competitive industry. The rationale behind the research is that communication challenges between UKZN, International Partner Universities and students, are threatening the overall success of the student exchange programme, with partners threatening to reduce their student exchange numbers. This rationale was tested via primary research in the form of a questionnaire distributed to international partner universities, who then randomly selected a target sample from students who had recently returned from a UKZN student exchange. Interviews were also conducted with a smaller sample and secondary research, in the form of a literature review of previous research findings and theoretical perspectives, was conducted. The sample comprised of ninety nine international students from first-world countries, who participated in a student exchange to UKZN. Respondent profiles included both male and female second-year tertiary respondents, from the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA). The major findings of the investigation revealed that the majority of respondents agreed that communication challenges at UKZN posed a credible threat to the future success of the exchange programme. UKZN should, therefore, focus on implementing long and short-term communication’s strategies. The research also found that, by addressing international concerns through the training and development of student exchange officers, will help equip officers to deal with a continually changing international relations’ climate.