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Accommodating International Students

Editor’s Note: In the July+August 2010 issue of the Talking Stick magazine, we asked members to discuss how they try to harmoniously blend international and local students living in their residence halls. The conversation, however, overflowed the pages. What follows is the full, unedited text. Participating in this conversation are Rebecca Chan, director of the Student Residence Office at the City University of Hong Kong in China; Jack Gibbons,  associate director for the Office of Residential Life at the University of California, Los Angeles; Janice Robinson, director of residence life at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; and Kristin M. Hunger, residence life coordinator for the Pollock Halls of Residence at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Rebecca Chan: City University is located in the city of Hong Kong, and we have 3,000 on-campus student residence places. We are building 700 more which will be completed in 2011-12. In the undergraduate halls, we have been accommodating all non-local students (international students, students from mainland China, and exchange students) on campus. The number of non-local students has been increasing in the past few years, and it is becoming a problem to accommodate them all. So, starting from students admitted in 2009, we only guarantee non-local students a two-year accommodation in on-campus residences; this way we can adjust students’ and parents’ expectations beforehand. Nevertheless, we are trying our very best to keep students on campus as long as we can.

We do not intend to place all non-local students in residence halls, since this might neglect the needs of local students (students from Hong Kong). We have a policy of maintaining a reasonable ratio between local and non-local students in residence halls, an arrangement that facilitates intercultural communication and learning among students; non-local students will get to know and live with local people and vice versa, which is ultimately beneficial to all. At this moment, the reasonable ratio is 50:50. So in practice, for a typical undergraduate hall of 300 students, 150 will be local students, and the other 150 will come from either mainland China or overseas.

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