A significant body of work has emerged over the last 10 years investigating the experiences of international university students. These studies have covered various challenges faced by some groups of international students relating to culture, language and integration and have been prompted by the increase in international students studying in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. A smaller strand of research has also begun to focus on the experiences, perspectives and reactions of academic staff who have seen the composition of their cohorts change substantially over recent years in terms of numbers of international participants. This article reviews relevant literature in this field, reporting on a questionnaire study based at two UK post‐92 universities. Respondents associated a range of traits with international students and suggested that the increasing number of international students enhanced the environment, but also required a higher level of support. This study also found that staff resorted to informal methods when developing means of adapting their practices to the increasing number of international students, preferring discussion with colleagues and students themselves to formal development programmes or advice from specialist departments such as student support. The article concludes that in order to encourage diversity in a meaningful way, universities need to recognise the challenge of increased numbers of international students and support staff accordingly.