The impact of a large cohort of Chinese students on the delivery of an Engineering degree in the UK

Junxia Hou, Catherine Montgomery, Peter Harrington, Liz McDowell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Undergraduate articulation programmes are common in collaborations between China and the UK. Their proliferation has resulted in a high ratio of Chinese students in some Engineering courses. This paper interrogates such a site where a ‘2+2’ agreement between a Chinese and British university has produced engineering learning contexts where Chinese students are in the majority. The paper draws upon a longitudinal ethnographic study of 50 Chinese undergraduate Engineering students, conducted over 15 months in China and the UK. In-depth interviews and participatory observations were conducted to collect data. Constructive grounded theory analytical approaches were adopted to analyse the data. Findings reveal that the Chinese students’ contribution to the revenue and internationalization of the university culture has impelled the host school to start to link with the Chinese university closely at academic level. The effort in facilitating Chinese students’ transition through early intervention and academic exchange has made the two teaching and learning contexts more connected. The presence of this large cohort of Chinese students also has motivated some of the academic staff to modify their teaching to adjust to students’ learning. However, this kind of adjustment has caused some complaints from the other students in the class. The social disintegration and unfamiliarity amongst students at the initial stage have had a negative effect on peer learning. Structured contacts have benefited the integration of the multinational class, which has enhanced the peer learning in the class. Studying with Chinese students also enables home students to reflect on past learning experiences and this highlights a gap among secondary school, college and university education, which could be a potential obstacle to young people studying Engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
EventEngineering Education 2010 - Aston University, Birmingham
Duration: 1 Jul 2010 → …


ConferenceEngineering Education 2010
Period1/07/10 → …
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