Integrating International, Intercultural, and Global Dimensions in Tertiary Education: Ways Forward
Background: The internationalisation of tertiary education is a global phenomenon. Increasingly, study-abroad students and foreign lecturers are entering the education industry. This research examined the potential and specific strengths that Non-Native English Speakers (NNESs) have brought to New Zealand universities in general, and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) specifically. The research aimed to add to the little existing research involving NNES academics in New Zealand, and explore their potential contribution to the development of international universities in a New Zealand context, through asking: What unique experiences and expertise do NNES international academics bring to New Zealand; How can their unique experiences and expertise enhance the teaching and learning in New Zealand universities; How have NNES lecturers used their unique experiences to navigate and overcome challenges; What kind of support do NNES lecturers need to thrive?
Methods: This research employed a qualitative descriptive method. Online semi-structured interviews with 8 AUT international NNES academics were conducted. Participants were current academic staff who had worked for more than 3 years in tertiary institutions in New Zealand. Participants, three males and five females, came from different AUT faculties including the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies; Culture and Society; and Health and Environmental Sciences. Thematic analysis was conducted manually, with the assistance of NVivo software for systematic coding and organisation of themes.
Findings: Three main themes were generated: experience, challenges, and support. The first two themes reflected the NNES lecturer's ability to enhance academic teaching in New Zealand. Findings suggest that NNES academics have unique assets and experiences that contribute to their intercultural sensitivity, intercultural competency and communication, and expertise of diverse pedagogies and has helped them navigate the challenges and adjustment faced in a new environment. The last theme explored how individuals and institutions support NNES lecturers to maximise the NNES lecturer’s strengths in academic teaching. Findings suggest an urgent need for embracing ‘deep’ culturally diversity—beyond that generally defined by conservative measures of race, age or gender—to include language, pedagogy, and other nexus of diversities.
Conclusions: This research confirmed that NNES lecturers’ unique experiences, skills, and expertise significantly contribute to the development of international education in the New Zealand context.