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Well-being of international students in the UK: three- wave longitudinal study

Tue, April 16, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Bayview B

Proposal

Few longitudinal studies have examined the changes over time in international students’ wellbeing. This study aimed to explore any change in wellbeing from the beginning of the first semester until the end of the academic year and the impacts of using ‘wellbeing away’ strategies that developed by (Sodexo, 2014) which suggests a few strategies at each stage of the transition that help an individual to maintain and manage their own level of well-being, make the adapting process much easier and with fewer negative outcomes and quality of university life on international students’ wellbeing. The survey used the Smith wellbeing questionnaire (SWELL), a ‘quality of university life’ questionnaire, a ‘being away strategies’ questionnaire and five open-ended questions focused on difficulties, coping strategies and the respondents’ most difficult time during their study period in the UK. A total of 96 participants completed the three phases. Repeated measurements showed no significant difference in students’ wellbeing over the academic year. Regression analysis showed that positive effects were only predicted by ‘being in’ strategies (adapting ‘being away’ without reliance on technology and unwinding after study) and by the quality of university life in the second phase and by preparing to return and change activities in the final phase. Themes derived from open-ended responses showed that participants found the hardest parts were pre-arrival and the first few weeks in the UK: 50% of the students reported academic difficulties (exams, deadlines, lack of understanding because of their level of language ability, and lack of adjustment to the education system). This challenge was followed by time management and study-life balance as the next most difficult issue, especially for those who reported themselves married, and finally, a few students reported homesickness and feeling lonely. Students reported getting social support from family and friends, exercise, shopping, smoking and sleeping as coping strategies. Results give support to the value of studying ‘away’ strategies that can help students studying away from home to maintain wellbeing.

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