Higher education students' experiences of a short-term international programme: exploring cultural competency and professional development

Nadine Blankvoort, Vera C Kaelin, Soemitro Poerbodipoero, Susanne Guidetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Globalisation trends such as increased migration to and
within European countries have led to even greater cultural diversity
in European societies. Cultural diversity increases the demand of
cultural competency amongst professionals entering their work
field. In particular, healthcare professionals need knowledge and skills
to equip them to work with clients from different cultural backgrounds.
Within higher education (HE), the professional development
of cultural competency should ideally feature in undergraduate education
and is often promoted as a by-product of a study abroad
period. However, recognising that logistical and financial barriers
often exist for extended study abroad, one alternative approach
could be participation, at home or abroad, in a short-term international
programme set within students’ own HE institutions.
Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore HE students’ experiences
of participating in international ‘short-term mobility week’
programmes at three European universities.
Methods: Each university involved in the research offered short term
programmes for healthcare professions students at their own
institution, where both local students and students from abroad
could participate. Participants were healthcare students in the
programme at one of the three universities. Data were collected
through focus group interviews (4–8 students per group; n = 25).
The data were transcribed and then analysed qualitatively, using
a content comparison method.
Results: The analysis identified six categories, which reflected
students’ journeys within the short-term international experiences.
Conclusions: The analysis suggested that, for these students,
engagement in a short-term mobility week programme provided
valuable opportunities for encounters with others, which contributed
to personal and professional development, greater confidence
in the students’ own professional identities, as well as an
increasing sense of cultural awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-370
JournalEducation Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019


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