Original Research

The social integration experiences of international doctoral students at Russian universities

Nurudeen Abdul-Rahaman, Evgeniy Terentev, Issah Iddrisu
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 7 | a206 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v7i0.206 | © 2022 Nurudeen Abdul-Rahaman, Evgeniy Terentev, Issah Iddrisu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 April 2022 | Published: 08 November 2022

About the author(s)

Nurudeen Abdul-Rahaman, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, The National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation
Evgeniy Terentev, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, The National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation
Issah Iddrisu, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana


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Abstract

Social integration (SI) plays a critical role in doctoral students’ success. However, SI experiences could differ depending on the characteristics of students and their programmes. The study investigates differences in the SI of doctoral students at Russian universities and identifies the main groups at risk who have more difficulties with SI. To achieve this, the study utilized data from a cross-institutional online survey of doctoral students conducted in 2021 on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education. A total of 4,454 doctoral students from 249 universities responded to the survey. Findings from the study indicate international students were less socially integrated in terms of having more friends and having problems interacting with others, either in person or remotely. Generally, no clear and significant difference was observed between their experiences and all aspects of social integration analysed in the study. Secondly, international doctoral students (IDS) are divided into groups (groups with low SI scores and groups with high SI scores) and compared them in terms of their subjective assessment of their chances for defence during the normative period of their studies and their overall satisfaction with the doctoral programme. The results for both variables revealed significant differences between IDS and varying degrees of SI. Significantly, the IDS group with a higher SI score reported high chances of defending their dissertation within the normative period of five years. The study concludes by suggesting that that activities that foster informal communication should be implemented and standardized within all departments in Russian universities to properly absorb all doctoral students into the social and academic cultures of their universities.


Keywords

social integration; department; international student; domestic student; attrition persistence.

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