Abstract

Studying-away Strategies: A Three-wave Longitudinal Study of the Wellbeing of International Students in the United Kingdom

Abstract: Few longitudinal studies have examined the changes over time in international students’ wellbeing. This study aimed to explore any change in wellbeing from the beginning of the first semester until the end of the academic year and the impact of using ‘wellbeing away’ strategies on international students’ wellbeing. The survey used the Smith Wellbeing Questionnaire (SWELL), a ‘quality of university life’ questionnaire, a ‘being away strategies’ questionnaire and three open-ended questions focused on difficulties, coping strategies and the respondents’ most demanding time during their study period in the UK. A total of 104 participants completed the three phases. Repeated measurements showed no significant difference in students’ wellbeing over the academic year. A hierarchical regression analysis showed that positive effects were predicted by positive personality, lower level of course demands, by unwinding after study and by quality of life in the second phase. Themes derived from open-ended responses showed that participants found the hardest parts were pre-arrival and the first few weeks in the UK: 48% of the students reported academic difficulties such as exams, deadlines and lack of adjustment to the education system. Time management and study-life balance were the next most difficult issues, especially for those who reported themselves married. Finally, students reported getting social support from family and friends and used exercise as a coping strategy. Results give support to the value of ‘studying away’ strategies that can help students who are away from home to maintain wellbeing.

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