Hyams-Ssekasi, Denis (2012) The Transition of International Sub-Saharan African Students into the UK University system with reference to a University in the North of England. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The study seeks to examine the transition of international Sub-Saharan African students joining a UK University situated in the North of England.

This research study examines the existing literature on the transition of international students into higher education; the factors that influence universities in recruiting international students; the motives of students to study in the UK; the issues prospective international Sub-Saharan African students experience in the process; and the support mechanisms universities have in place.

Using interviews as the primary research method, an empirical inquiry has enabled the researcher to explore areas of transition where no substantive theory existed. The interviews were conducted with international Sub-Saharan African students who were new to the country and had been in the University for only six weeks. The interviews covered the international Sub-Saharan African students’ background, their decision to study in the UK and their transitional experiences. The research enquiry found that the majority of respondents in the study were first generations pursuing higher education outside their country of origin.

Generally, the international Sub-Saharan African students in this study agreed that their previous upbringing and educational experiences had impacted on their studies. In retrospect, the decision to come to study in the UK was influenced by their parents, the prestige of obtaining a UK degree, enhancing future prospects and assisting the families in their own countries. The international Sub-Saharan African students encountered a catalogue of problems which had a great impact on their transitions to a UK university. In the name of “education” and a UK qualification, the international African students were prepared to endure difficulties. Such findings regarding these included: limited support during the transition process, in particular prior to the student arriving in the UK, and also upon arriving at a UK airport, but prior to arriving at the University. Induction programmes are conducted generally in academic institutions, but this research shows they are not targeted at meeting the needs of international African students. Prior learning of international students is not considered. There was also inadequate support for students arriving at the University after the induction process. This research explains perceptions the international Sub-Saharan African students held about their transitional experiences, and personal strategies they deployed in order to cope with their new environment.

Whilst the results of the inquiry are in agreement with much of the current literature about international students, this study contributes to the existing knowledge on transition and provides a number of recommendations to the University in order to help improve its transitional processes for international Sub-Saharan African students.

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