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The Satisfaction of International Students Living in Liverpool

Abstract

This research investigates the satisfaction of international students living in the Liverpool in four factors which are expense of student accommodation, part-time job opportunities, public security and sanitation of environment. In this research, the quantitative research strategies were adopted, specifically with questionnaires methods (only closed-questions, and all the participants were chosen in University of Liverpool) to collect the data. As a result, half of international students were satisfied with Liverpool as a place to live. Meanwhile, it is found that Liverpool’s international students held some negative opinions in ‘accommodation cost’, ‘part-time job’, ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’ aspects. This is important for universities and authorities to adopt some measures or policies to improve the situation for international students.

Introduction

The aim of the proposed research is to investigate the satisfaction of international students living in the Liverpool, concentrating especially on expense of student accommodation, part-time job opportunities, public security and sanitation of environment which those factors may impact on international student satisfaction. Firstly, the High-priced accommodation may make international students unsatisfied. Secondly, hunting for a part-time job is a good way to lighten the living cost burden for most international students if the part-time job opportunities are easy and available. On the other hand, International students concern about security problem as an important issue because they looked different from native, they were at greater risk (Daglar, 2009).What is more, they may do not satisfied with the sanitation of environment in the street if extremely under their expectation, such as the cigarette-ends and rubbish can be seen anywhere. However, satisfaction is subjective, individual international students may have different attitudes depend on their own living standard and living-cost standard. Hence it is different to measure.

This research will hopefully help universities and authorities improve the situation for international students, because it is important and beneficial for universities to attract more and more international students. Moreover, for the government, it also can improve the views of foreigners in Liverpool, to establish a good image of the city.

‘‘International students’’ in this research is used to describe students who study in foreign educational institutions including foundation certificate, graduate diploma, graduate and postgraduate degree, no PHD degree and post-doctoral students are included in this study. In this research will investigate what are the opinions held by international students in Liverpool about the satisfaction on factors of expense of student accommodation, part-time job opportunities, public security and sanitation of environment. Whether their opinions reflect the current research and primary data in this research suggested. Additionally, this research also will use some recent research of the local people’s satisfaction of living in Liverpool as an evaluation standard and to make a comparison. This research will use quantitative research strategy, specifically with questionnaires methods to collect the data, linking it with historical and current theories and data on the subject in order to find the similarity and statistically work out the results of this study. In this research, the first part will focus on some historical and current theories and data on the subject in section one, and introduce the methodology in this research in section two, and interpret the findings and make a discussion in the section three, then make conclusions and recommendations in the last part.

Literature review

International students have in recent years come to constitute a large proportion of the world-wide student body in higher learning institutions (Paige, 1990). A recent study by IDP Australia estimated that the global demand for international higher education will increase to 3.720 million by 2025 compared to 2.173 million in 2005, which means approximately more than 1.5 million students seeking higher education overseas by 2025 (International Development Programs (IDP), 2007). What is more, currently, UK occupied 11 per cent, as the second position in the market share of the global education market, behind USA (23 per cent) (UNESCO, 2006). Apparently, nowadays, with the number of international students growing, education has become industries around the world.

In regard to the expense of student accommodation (university-owned), it is an important factor which can impact the satisfaction of students in the first years (Tackey and Aston, 1999, p. 42).It is also a large part of spending for living. Arambewela and Hall (2009) state International students expect student accommodation with minimum standards of comfort and at a reasonable cost which is provided by universities or by private agencies. Students also expected that such student accommodation is available when they needed. Few studies make direct reference to accommodation as a factor. Townley (2001) identifies accommodation with food and not as a separate factor, while Harvey (2001) also rates accommodation price as an important factor influencing student satisfaction.

The NatWest Student Living Index survey 2009 shows Glasgow has 60% university students have the part time job, the most in the UK, compared to fewest in Newcastle, which only 22% university students in the part time job. Hunting for a part-time job is a good way to lighten the living cost burden for most international students, Thomas (2008) pointed that the policy published by government (visa) allowed a full-time student to do part-time work maximum 20 hours weekly and the stated minimum salary is £5.73 per hour. However, securing a part-time job is probably not easy for international students, particularly for newly-arrived students. Burke (1986) found that the lack of opportunities for part-time casual employment is a concern to many students. Dane (2008) pointed that we are also aware that some employers may not be aware of current visa and work permit arrangements or that they may offer work experience or employment to international students and that the job market for international students is very mixed.

Several studies focus on the impacts of crime to international students, such as, Daglar (2009) found not only direct victims but also other people, crime causes fear emotions and shows an uptrend among international students, the level of fear can be divided into two crimes: sexual assault and personal property theft. International students feel more fearful than native students, they were at greater risk because they looked different from native students (ibid.). International students concern about security problem as an important issue. The negative effect is students will choice stay at home instead going out because of the fear and may create negative effects on mental and physical health (Nasar & Upton, 1995).

The study of the 2008 quality of life survey (Liverpool government,2008), investigated Liverpool local citizen about the satisfaction of living, the survey shows almost half local people dissatisfied by Anti Social Behavior and Environment – Dangerous and Dirty. The level of crime and keeps land clear of litter were seen as the issues most in need of improvement and local citizen also suggest for Improvement included Improvements of the local road and pavement repairs, road sweeping and noise pollution and More Police & Security. Although 74% of the local citizen’s attitude were satisfied with Liverpool as a place to live, this survey just reflected the problems which international students may most worried about---crime and dirty street. However, these two factors might be pivotal issues to affect the satisfaction of international students in living aspect.

There is, however, relatively little research evidence concerning the satisfaction of international students in certain areas. Additionally, there is also little data about the international students who living in Liverpool in limited aspects. This research will collect and analysis the current data on the satisfaction of expense of student accommodation, part-time job opportunities, public security and sanitation of environment amongst the international students living in the Liverpool.

Methodology

The proposed research was adopted positivist approach to investigate the attitudes about international students who living in the Liverpool in ‘expense of student accommodation’, ‘part-time job opportunities’, ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’ these four aspects. The quantitative research strategies were adopted, specifically with questionnaires methods (only closed-questions) to collect the data. The questionnaire method is capable to collect large amount of information from limited population to help understanding what a larger population thinks, and it is economical and practical (Saunders et al.,2007: 137).

This research used primary research and secondary research to collect data and analyses. Because there are limited data to illustrate the exactly attitude about Liverpool’s international students in ‘expense of student accommodation’, ‘part-time job opportunities’, ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’. Hence, these primary data were found out through this research. On the other hand, the research of ‘2008 quality of life survey’ (Liverpool government, 2008) provided us some local people’s attitudes on ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’, so this can be used as the secondary data for comparison in this research.

Some of the questions in the questionnaire were based on the research of ‘2008 quality of life survey’ (Liverpool government, 2008), but, it was much modified because it related to international students. The questionnaire consisted of 11 questions and all questions are single choice. The questionnaires were printed out and delivered face-to-face in order to guarantee 100 percent collection rate. The questions are relevant to ‘expense of student accommodation’, ‘part-time job opportunities’, ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’ to make sure can get the accurate attitudes from participants. The samples were a quota of 8 international students in 4 classes of University of Liverpool (including foundation certificate, graduate diploma, graduate and postgraduate degree international students) total of 32. And the samples were investigated 4 male and 4 female equally in each class. The survey was piloted by 4 international students who living in Myrtle Court student accommodation before the formal survey took place. As a result, it reduced some biases and changed some unclear questions in the questionnaire after modified. Then the formal survey was launched in 20th March, firstly, the interviewer was introduced himself and the demonstrated the purpose of the research was to investigate the satisfaction of international students in Liverpool, and then asked for the potential participant’s cooperation (answer all questions is needed, otherwise the people won’t be given the questionnaire). As a result, all the 48 valid responses were collected and completely answered all questions. After all, with the purpose of research validity, the collected data were analyzed by the statistical methods.

Respondents to questionnaires will be assured confidentiality and their anonymity will be kept and not given to anyone, but that responses will be summarized anonymously in a research report. Additionally, the surveys were totally voluntary and no incentives were offered to participants. This research is important because University of Liverpool as a world-famous university which attracted increasingly international students. Moreover, the influence of the city of Liverpool is probably another reason why international students choose. Thus, it is necessary to listen to the voice and opinion from international students about Liverpool and try to improve the situation for them.

However, there are still some possible reliability and validity problems and limitations in this research. Firstly, when it comes to ‘expense of student accommodation’ and ‘part-time job opportunities’ part, the different participants in different ages may hold different opinions about money. For instance, most foundation certificate, and graduate students are under 23 years old, which means most of them are probably made a living by their parents. On the contrast, most graduate diploma and postgraduate degree students are older than 24 years old, which means most of them are probably had work experiences. They may have different opinions on what money exactly mean between them. So there may be having different attitude about ‘expense of student accommodation’ and ‘part-time job opportunities’ in different age’s participants. Secondly, during the research, a few of participants were hurry to catch the class lead to finished questionnaire very soon. This is a factor may impact the accuracy of data. Thirdly, the number of samples may too small to present all the opinions of Liverpool’s international students.

Findings and discussion

Though the collected data from questionnaires can be found that (see figure 1) the half of international students (50%) were satisfied with Liverpool as a place to live, which include ‘very satisfied (16%)’ and ‘fairly satisfied (34%). On the contrary, 23% of international students were dissatisfied. However, there are also almost one third international students held the attitude of neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with Liverpool. The survey found Liverpool’s international students held some negative opinions in ‘accommodation cost’, ‘part-time job’, ‘public security’ and ‘sanitation of environment’ aspects.

1.JPG

Expense of student accommodation

2.JPG

It is found that, no participant thought the expense of student accommodation in Liverpool is cheap. About 19% participants considered the accommodation price is neither expensive of cheap. On the contrary, almost half of participants thought the accommodation price is barely acceptable to them, whilst 34% of participants thought it is a burden. The figure 2 indicates us most of international students’ current accommodation price is £80~£90 weekly. However, all of the participants thought the reasonable accommodation price which they can afford should be under £80 per week.

As Harvey (2001) rates accommodation price as an important factor influencing student satisfaction, according to this survey, most international students believed the expense of student accommodation in Liverpool should be more reasonable. The results may be due to the fact that most of international students are come from Asia and Africa, and the student accommodation prices in those countries are much cheaper than European countries. The findings just proved the standpoint of International students expect student accommodation with minimum standards of comfort and at a reasonable cost which is provided by universities (Arambewela and Hall, 2009). As for student accommodations provided by University of Liverpool, the accommodations price list (University of Liverpool, 2009) shows the cheapest accommodation is £80.15 per week, this might be why most international students’ current accommodation price is £80~£90 weekly and all of the participants thought the reasonable accommodation price which they can afford should be under £80 per week. Accommodation cost is a large part of spending for living, and the average price of student accommodation in Liverpool is at medium and high grade compared to accommodation cost in the UK universities (The Independent, 2008). Obviously, this probably is not at a reasonable cost for many international students.

Part-time job

3.JPG

It is surprised to found that part-time job opportunities in Liverpool are not so limited for international students but half of the participants’ salary is under £5.75, the government stated minimum salary level for international students. According to this survey, it also can be found that, about one third of international students are doing a part-time job. Another one third international students have ever tried to hunt for a part-time job but failed. What is more, the rest of one third international students have never tried. The figure 2 states us, for the international students who are doing the part-time job or used to have a part-time job, ‘waiter’ and ‘sales (in the supermarket, shop, etc.) occupied 90%.

In this survey, two third of the international students tried to find a part-time job, it is likely that doing a part-time job is a good way to ease the financial burden of the high-priced accommodation. In the other hand, half of them got the job. It appears that part-time job opportunities in Liverpool are not so limited for international students. As for the reasons of half of the participants’ salary is under the level of government stated minimum salary could be that, the students lack of protection of consciousness of law to stand up for their rights and another reason might be they lack of standard work formalities which result in their salary level totally controlled by the employers. Additionally, it seems that ‘waiter’ and ‘sales’ these two kinds of job are likely the most available for international students. It also could be that they are basic and do not occupied too much school times. Because more and more international students are hunting for part-time job today, perhaps the government might concern about this issue and try to improve international students’ situation.

Public security

Very Safe

Fairly Safe

Neither safe nor unsafe

Fairly unsafe

Very unsafe

Day (light outside)

53%

30%

15%

1%

1%

Night(dark outside)

12%

15%

30%

41%

2%

Figure 5. How safe/unsafe do you feel in your living area?

Data collected from this survey illustrates 78% concerned about the crime. In the last twelve months, more than 20% of international students or their friends have been a victim or crime in personal attacks, racially motivated attack and hate crime. Most of them believed Liverpool is safe in the day time (see figure5), whilst only a few international students thought Liverpool is a safe place when in the night.

As expected as Daglar (2009)’s standpoint, international students are highly concern about the crime, it could be that, they have experienced as a victim, lack of street lighting and community policing, or they are in fear of becoming a victim (Liverpool government, 2008). However, there are significantly different attitudes in night time between international students and Liverpool local people. According to the study of 2008 quality of life survey (ibid.), only 17% of local people felt unsafe in the night compared to 43% of international students. These results can be explained by the fact that international students were at greater risk because they looked different from native (Daglar, 2009). If the government paid more attention to public security, international students might be feel more secure, meanwhile to the benefit of every people in Liverpool.

Sanitation of environment

4.JPG

It is found out that, almost half of the international students dissatisfied with sanitation of environment in Liverpool. The figure 5 demonstrates that about 31% participants satisfied with sanitation of environment in Liverpool, less than 44% of international students dissatisfied.

It is almost same to the study of 2008 quality of life survey (Liverpool government, 2008), which shows almost half people dissatisfied by sanitation of environment. It seems that Liverpool is not a good place for living in this section. This could be the sanitation of environment in Liverpool is under their expectation, such as the cigarette-ends and rubbish can be seen anywhere. As states by ‘2008 quality of life survey’ (ibid.), keeps land clear of litter were seen as the issues most in need of improvement and local citizen also suggest for improvement included improvements of the local road and pavement repairs, road sweeping and noise pollution. Because living environment is closely related with every people, it would be improve the views of foreigners in Liverpool, to establish a good image of the city and make people satisfied that the government improves the current situation of sanitation of environment.

Conclusions and recommendations

The present study was designed to determine the satisfaction of international students living in the Liverpool, concentrating especially on expense of student accommodation, part-time job opportunities, public security and sanitation of environment. It is found out some interesting data. Firstly, all of the participants thought the accommodation price should be more reasonable. Almost half of participants thought the accommodation price is barely acceptable to them, whilst 34% of participants thought it is a burden. Secondly, it is found that part-time job opportunities in Liverpool are not so limited for international students but half of the participants’ salary is under the level of government stated minimum salary. What is more, the most common part time jobs for international students are waiter and sales. Thirdly, international students were worried about public security in Liverpool and also dissatisfied by sanitation of environment. Overall, these factors result in the half of international students (50%) were satisfied with Liverpool as a place to live, 23% of international students were dissatisfied and 27% of international students held the attitude of neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with Liverpool.

The current findings add to a growing body of literature on the satisfaction of international students in certain areas, for example, Liverpool. On the other hand, the methods which used in this research also may be applied to investigate the satisfaction of international students in other areas.

Moreover, this research suggested some of international students felt dissatisfied in four factors which are expense of university student accommodations, part-time job opportunities and income, public security and sanitation of environment. This is important for universities and authorities to adopt some measures or policies to improve the situation for international students. Such as, university can provide some cheaper student accommodation for international students to meet their needs. This is an effective way to attract international students to choose Liverpool as an ideal place. Then again, universities and authorities are able to do something to help international students to find part-time jobs, such as universities can provide some school part-time job opportunities for international students. Meanwhile, the government might strengthen supervisions in workplaces to guarantee the stated minimum salary for international students. Additionally, government might pay more attentions to public security and try to improve the sanitation of environment, because it is beneficial for both international students and local people. Overall, it is necessary to improve the situation for international students, because it is important and beneficial for universities and government.

Finally, this research just investigated the satisfaction of international students in limited aspects, and the number of samples may too small, plus some participants and researcher biases to some extent are inevitable. So this research might not totally present and understand all the opinions of Liverpool’s international students. However, this research will help and recommend further research to investigate more information about international students’ attitude and situation.

Word counting: 3442

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