International Students’ Experience of Higher Education during the Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Owen Kelly

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Background: COVID-19 has negatively impacted students in higher education worldwide. International students have especially suffered throughout the pandemic. Economic challenges and loneliness are leading causes of international students’ mental well-being. Living conditions and reliability on internet access have proved challenging during the transition to online learning. These factors have affected international students’ motivation to learn and has taken them out of their comfort zone to traditional learning.
Aims: There were three aims of this study: 1. Investigate how students’ mental health has been affected during the pandemic; 2. Explore the perceptions of remote learning throughout the closure of universities; and 3. Examine the lack of social experience students have had due to the global pandemic through qualitative interviews.
Methods: A multiple embedded case study design was chosen, using qualitative research methods. This study received ethical approval from the University of Huddersfield School of Research Ethics and Integrity Committee. Students were then recruited via their student emails where all the relevant information was detailed through a participant consent form and information sheet. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the willing participants using Microsoft Teams. Data was analysed using template analysis.
Findings: The findings of this study illustrate five key themes that have affected the experiences of international students during the COVID-19 pandemic: 1: Communication and Support; 2: Well-Being; 3: Access to Learning Remotely; 4: The Development of Academic Skills; and 5: The Mode of Teaching and Learning Delivery. This study also found that loneliness was endemic throughout the learning experience and had a significant impact on mental well-being.
Implication for practice: Universities must support international students in a variety of ways, compared to traditional students. Implementing strategies such as online events to promote socialisation for international students is essential. Allocating compatible mentors can enable a more seamless transition into university life away from home.
Date of Award24 Apr 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMichael Snowden (Main Supervisor) & Jamie Halsall (Co-Supervisor)

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