Many students experience difficulties making the transition from school to university. Both national and international students
The UCL CCS (Cultural Consultation Service)
aims to enhance learning and teaching outcomes
for students and staff facing cross-cultural and
starting out in Higher Education find they need to make adjustments. For international students, the education system in their country of origin may be very different from that in the UK. Both International and UK students are also adapting to a different culture, trying to forge professional relationships with university staff and personal relationships with peers.
This may be the first time that the student has lived away from home. They may experience a range of interpersonal, cross-cultural, and intra cultural issues, with added complexities and sometimes conflict relating to social class, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
A student has come from an education system where the lecturer is considered a senior authority figure, who teaches students ‘the facts’. The student is initially surprised when encouraged to challenge received wisdom by, for example, critically appraising widely cited theories and published evidence in the field. In the student’s country of origin, facts were taught as ‘the truth’ whereas at UCL students are expected to question and critique received wisdom.
A student from an orthodox religious background is anxious about student social life in London: everyone in her group goes to the pub after seminars. She would never normally go to a pub, knowing that her family would not approve. Nevertheless, to fit in, should she join them in the pub..?
A white European student from a working class background was invited by her new PhD supervisor, who was from an upper middle class, Cambridge educated background, to dine with him and two other students at the supervisor’s private club. When selecting from the menu, the supervisor invited the student to choose from the wine-list.
The student felt intimidated and was worried she would be perceived as ignorant. The supervisor thought he was being kind and generous whereas the student, who knew nothing about wine, felt uncomfortable in this situation.