Higher education students' experiences of a short-term international programme

exploring cultural competency and professional development


Background: Globalisation trends such as increased migration to and<br/>within European countries have led to even greater cultural diversity<br/>in European societies. Cultural diversity increases the demand of<br/>cultural competency amongst professionals entering their work<br/>field. In particular, healthcare professionals need knowledge and skills<br/>to equip them to work with clients from different cultural backgrounds.<br/>Within higher education (HE), the professional development<br/>of cultural competency should ideally feature in undergraduate education<br/>and is often promoted as a by-product of a study abroad<br/>period. However, recognising that logistical and financial barriers<br/>often exist for extended study abroad, one alternative approach<br/>could be participation, at home or abroad, in a short-term international<br/>programme set within students’ own HE institutions.<br/>Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore HE students’ experiences<br/>of participating in international ‘short-term mobility week’<br/>programmes at three European universities.<br/>Methods: Each university involved in the research offered short term<br/>programmes for healthcare professions students at their own<br/>institution, where both local students and students from abroad<br/>could participate. Participants were healthcare students in the<br/>programme at one of the three universities. Data were collected<br/>through focus group interviews (4–8 students per group; n = 25).<br/>The data were transcribed and then analysed qualitatively, using<br/>a content comparison method.<br/>Results: The analysis identified six categories, which reflected<br/>students’ journeys within the short-term international experiences.<br/>Conclusions: The analysis suggested that, for these students,<br/>engagement in a short-term mobility week programme provided<br/>valuable opportunities for encounters with others, which contributed<br/>to personal and professional development, greater confidence<br/>in the students’ own professional identities, as well as an<br/>increasing sense of cultural awareness.

Reference Blankvoort, N., Kaelin, V. C., Poerbodipoero, S., & Guidetti, S. (2019). Higher education students' experiences of a short-term international programme: exploring cultural competency and professional development. Education Research, 61(3), 356-370. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2019.1632725
Published by  Urban Vitality 25 June 2019

Publication date

Jun 2019


Vera C Kaelin
Susanne Guidetti

Research database