The globalised society we live in today has allowed a multitude of new global connections and opportunities. These connections and opportunities have not only changed the face of finance, the media, and world ideas, but also education. Education expands on a global scale and globalisation has had a profound effect on the way it functions and how it is explored. One of these effects is the growing experience of international education.
International education has grown in popularity, especially in Australia where 80% of international students are students from Asia, hoping to gain an Australian cultural experience. (Marginson 2012 p.1). However, the international experience gained is not always what is expected, with a number of international students stating the local students don’t seem interested in interacting. (Marginson 2012 p.2)
The stigma surrounding local Australian students is that they are too parochial in their views and in this perhaps need to expand their cultural competence. Cultural competence is an overarching idea that transcends across education, the workplace and the overall acceptance of ideas. Its includes a number of key behaviours that can be adopted in order to gain this so called cultural competence. These include flexibility, critical thinking, reflexivity, empathy, understanding divergent points of view, coping with ambiguity and uncertainty and cultural negotiation (Marginson 2012). However, there is also the point that international students don’t know how to interact local students and this also leads to a low rate of interaction between students. Whatever the case may be, it cannot be denied that international education is not reaching the limits and opportunities that it has the potential to.
I have been an international student in the past, and also did not find it reached my expectations of what I believed it could be. I didn’t experience any of the language barriers that others way have as I only lived in the United States. There was however a number of cultural differences that were not expected and cultural competence was needed.
Despite the exact cause of international education not reaching its overall possibilities, cultural competence is a factor that can be improved. Cultural competence is a notion explored across Australia in a number of fields and the Centre of Cultural Competence Australia is a site that explores just that. The Centre of Cultural Competence Australia is an online course which focuses solely on competence based Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islanders. Their site includes a range of resources, training outcomes and courses all with the outcome of cultural competence in Australia.
The site aims to bridge the gap between non-Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Australians through the lack of knowledge, education and understanding that exists. Sustainable and lasting change cannot be delivered until Australians increase their cultural understanding and develop the kinds of skills to become culturally competent personally and professionally.
It is these kinds of sites and implementations for cultural competence that can be used to help bridge the gap between international and local students and to help make international education the experience that it can be. Not only this, but cultural competence may even be able to increase the opportunities in many of the aspects of globalisation that continue to be polarising in the eyes of society.
Centre for Cultural Competence Australia, viewed 10 August 2017,<https://www.ccca.com.au>.
Marginson, S 2012, ‘International as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’ p.1-3
Studies in Australia, 2017, International Students in Australia, viewed 10 August 2017, <https://www.studiesinaustralia.com/studying-in-australia/why-study-in-australia/international-students-in-australia>