Research into the challenges and experiences of international students at UKZN resulted in Ms Kwazikwenkosi Biyela receiving her Masters in Populations Studies degree.
Biyela focused on push and pull factors that influence students to move away from their home country to a chosen host institution. Biyela discovered that students leave because of issues around the economy, politics and education.
‘Students are attracted to the host country by the academic reputation and quality of education of a specific institution, the cost of education and geographic proximity, among other things,’ she said.
Challenges faced by international students in the chosen institution include adjustment problems, xenophobia, discrimination and prejudice, with language barriers and financial hardships being the most common.
‘International students are an important component of many higher learning institutions and research has found they encounter more problems than local students,’ said Biyela. ‘I think society will benefit from this research by having the knowledge about the challenges of international students. They will be able to assist where they can and change the entire discovered attitude towards immigrants.’
Biyela thanked her family, friends and supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj for being her support team.
Her advice to other students is, ‘Never give up – work hard and persevere.’