CrynodebThe presented study was concerned with the quality of existing services at the
McClay Library for the growing number of international students at Queen’s University Belfast. The research aimed to investigate the library’s preparation (regarding resources, services and staff awareness) to meet the information requirements of those students. The researcher was particularly interested in expectations and experiences of students from non-UK, non-English speaking countries. The study was performed during the 2009/10 academic year.
A thorough literature review outlined the main challenges international
students encounter in their academic journey. It revealed that in addition to the
culture shock and language barrier, different teaching styles and previous library
experience may also influence students’ adjustment to an unfamiliar library
environment. The literature review further examined various guidelines issued by
governmental and professional bodies, and actions taken by different universities worldwide to accommodate international students.
The study used a mixed-method approach to examine different viewpoints on
the research topic. As a result, a large amount of quantitative and qualitative data was collected. The opinions of 185 undergraduate and postgraduate international students were obtained using paper and web-based surveys. Semi-structured personal interviews with 25 members of staff were employed to survey their perception of international students’ support. Additionally, the library websites of five Irish universities were evaluated in terms of preparation for international students. The findings exposed various students’ experiences and expectations of different information materials and services, which are consistent with outcomes from other similar studies. The results suggested general satisfaction of resources, services and staff skills amongst surveyed students. The research indicated that the library staff is generally aware of the challenges international students face. However, the study revealed several weaknesses in the information support, such as a lack of clearly presented action plan or appointed International Student Library Adviser. The findings suggested lack of consideration for the diverse needs or experiences of those students, e.g. deficiency of library orientation and information literacy training courses designed especially for international students. All these issues need to be addressed in future. The study concludes with a number of recommendations for improvement of existing services for international students. This would develop the information services to global standards, making QUB more competitive in the race to attract international students
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