Narratives of Southeast Asian Female Postgraduates Studying in Taiwan

Year: 2021

Author: Wang, Tsai-Wei, Sodusta, Donne Jone Panizales, Chang, Te-Sheng

Type of paper: Poster

Recruiting international students has been a key aspect of Taiwan’s internationalization efforts in higher education. This research analyzed the experiences of five Southeast Asian female graduate students in Taiwan culled from interviews where they shared their thoughts on their motivations, learning experiences, relationships formed with teachers and peers, and cross-cultural social interactions. Through snowball sampling, five Southeast Asian female graduate students enrolled in master programs in the fields of nature science, environment science, management, and education were invited to share their stories. English was the main language during their studies in Taiwan. The preliminary findings of the study include: First, the availability of scholarships was a key factor in attracting these five Southeast Asian female graduate students to study for a master’s degree at a Taiwanese university. Other key factors were the simple application procedures, prior undergraduate internship or academic cooperative links with their present university, endorsements from teachers or friends, availability of English courses in their potential departments, reputation of Taiwan’s higher education and of their current university, avenues for personal growth, chance to shift careers, opportunities to broaden their knowledge, and future employment prospects. Second, maintaining, reapplying, and waiting for the results of their respective scholarships status every semester have become the biggest source of anxiety in their learning process. Third, they have pleasant interactions with teachers and advisers. They were able to discuss issues regarding academics or daily life with them. Fourth, as graduate students, they were active, consistent, and serious in studies to retain their scholarship status and eventually finish their degrees at the expense of sleep, leisure, and travel. Fifth, although they had few interactions with the faculty and staff in the department or on campus, and with their local Taiwanese peers, they pointed out that most of the faculty, staff and local peers were very kind and approachable when asked for assistance. Sixth, as international students, their daily life peer interactions were mainly with their fellow international students and compatriots. When encountering problems, lonely, homesick, they mainly relied on their compatriots for support and comfort. University educated young women from Southeast Asian societies have the knowledge and opportunities to study in Taiwan for independent study, personal growth, and future goals. However, three of them still regard teaching as optimal future career choice. These findings will help highlight gender as one of the key issues in the ongoing discussions in the internationalization of Taiwan’s higher education.