Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

International student

International students are foreign nationals, usually in early adulthood, who study in schools overseas. While most universities have official exchange programs, some well-funded high schools have them too. Although some solely come to improve their language, others come to advance their specialized studies. In addition, in many parts of the world, an overseas degree is considered much more prestigious than a local one.

While some international students already possess an excellent command of the local language upon arrival, some find their language ability, considered excellent domestically, inadequate for the purpose of conveying oneself fluently in rapid conversations. Because of this linguistic barrier, they are sometimes or frequently ridiculed or even harassed.

Many countries force international students to pay higher tuition than citizens of the country. This discrimination is usually justified by the argument that the students' parents do not pay the taxes of the country. The fact that a large number of international students decide to settle in the country in which they are studying and become productive citizens is, however, ignored in such cases.

Table of contents
1 Accomplishments
2 Dangers
3 Related topics


Much of the elite of the developing world are eductated at western universities. These include individuals as diverse as Ho Chi Minh and Abdullah II of Jordan.

Numerous international students from China were sent to the US during the late 19th century and 20th century by the government in an attempt to understand the culture and technology of the West that may be incorporated into the Chinese culture. Some of those international students (who may have come unofficially) became well-known scientists, such as Chen Ning Yang, Tsung-Dao Lee, and Chien-Shiung Wu.

The destination for Chinese international students has varied over the decades. Before World War II, Japan and France were the preferred destinations. International students from Taiwan have preferred the United States as a destination since the 1950's. Students from People's Republic of China tended to go to the Soviet Union in the 1950's. In the 1960's, universities were disrupted by the Cultural Revolution, and starting in 1977, students from the PRC have tended to go to the United States.

Some of these international students became citizens of their host countries. (See overseas Chinese, for example) In addition, given the prestige of an overseas degree, many international students go on to become government officials. Examples include Lee Tenghui, James Soong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

Universities with large populations of certain ethnic groups often have societies for these groups. These groups often become important parts of the university community. They also provide an important social network for students who may have no friends or relatives in the country, and difficulty interacting with peers who have a differing mother tongue.


International students usually do not have extensive connections among the locals, and may find themselves uncertain where to turn to when faced with threats. Dangers are caused both by natives of their host country and those from their own ethnicity.

Some of the threats are immediate and lethal, such as a series of attacks in 2002, when several female Asian international students were seriously harmed in British Columbia, Canada.

Park's attempted killer was a Caucasian, Robert Wallin, who claimed that Park was an "easy target". Zhao's killer was her Chinese Mainlander boyfriend, the 18-year-old Ang Li (李昂) studying at Simon Fraser University. These tragedies caused concerns for Asian Canadians as well.

Related topics