Healthy campus development: The international student experience




Wiebe, Robyn Dawn

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There is a breadth of literature on educating international students. The typical foci are on international students as economic contributors to foreign countries, or on challenges they face. Canadian educational institutions have the most rapidly growing population of international students, yet literature on how to create successful and health-promoting experiences and campus environments is lacking. The purpose of this study was to break new ground by using a mixed-method, secondary analysis approach guided by settings-based health promotion and Health Promoting University theories to explore and understand the health-related experience of international students. The secondary analysis drew on international student data generated from a CB-PAR guided study, The VOICE Study 2012: Revisiting healthy campus development at UBC’s Okanagan campus (UBCO). The two research objectives were: (a) to identify and understand health-related experiences of international students on post-secondary campuses; and (b) recommend strategies for enhancing health-promoting change in campus communities, particularly UBCO, that take into account the international student health-related experience. Responses to 378 community dialogue questionnaires, transcripts from two focus groups (4 participants) and one interview were analyzed. Quantitative analysis was done using descriptive and frequency statistics, and Pearson’s Chi-square test was performed to further understand the statistical findings. Qualitative analysis was done to identify over-arching categories related to participants’ health-related experiences. A synthesis of the qualitative and quantitative findings identified fourteen categories that encompassed the health-related experience of international students at UBCO, and are consistent with the principles of health promotion. The fourteen categories are policy/rules, cleanliness, campus environment, sense of community, orientation, discrimination, food, water, activity, transportation, services, substance use, expenses, and cheating. Of the fourteen categories, international students most frequently selected food, study spaces, and physical activity. Each category was discussed in detail and linked to relevant literature when possible. In the end, this Master’s thesis reflects the health-related interests and experiences of international students, and suggests ways to create a university that promotes health and well-being.



Health Promotion, International Students, Settings-based Health Promotion, Health Promoting Universities, Mixed Method