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Abstract

Purpose: Introductory or preparatory courses are often provided to international students in Australia as means to help them adjust to a new cultural and communication environment and a foreign educational setting. However, there is very little evaluation research on these introductory courses, especially from students’ perspectives, on their merits and demerits. Methods: This research utilised primary and secondary research methods. Firstly, a systematic review of the literature was undertaken to identify international students’ perspectives of education in Australia. Secondly, using qualitative and quantitative research methods, international postgraduate physiotherapy students’ perspectives of an introductory course at an Australian educational institution was identified. Results: Literature evidence from the systematic review of the literature identified that international students in Australia are confronted by a range of issues. These multidimensional issues reflect a range of concerns including those intrinsic to education itself (such as learning style, educators) as well several extrinsic issues ranging across a wide spectrum (such as cultural and social). Primary research evidence on the evaluation of an introductory course point to mixed findings. While students valued the introductory course, they also identified numerous areas for improvement. Key themes identified included repetition, workload, altering expectations, lack of learning support, and value for money. Conclusion: Findings from this research indicate that international students are confronted with numerous concerns when embarking on education in Australia. While introductory courses address some of these concerns, there are opportunities for improvement. As education moves towards a student-centred model, it is important to recognise and respond to students’ perspectives.

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