Understanding the attitudes of ethnic minority students towards higher education in Sweden. : A social identity perspective.

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet

Abstract:

European higher education is being faced with more and more challenges arising fromdiversity. Diversity arises as Universities seek to achieve higher levels ofinternationalisation by accepting students from as many countries as possible. Everyoneseems to be of the opinion that diversity is essentially a good thing. However, studies haveshown that diversity does not always lead to productivity. In Sweden for example, researchhas found that groups with gender diversity have more productive outcomes, while groupswith ethnic diversity display less positive outcomes. In general, research on highereducation has often showed that ethnic minority students achieve lower levels ofperformance than other students.This thesis studies the factors that affect the attitudes of ethnic minorities, first from a socialidentity point of view, and then by looking at other factors such as expectations ofemployment and the effects of studying in a new educational system. The social identityprocesses that are important in a student context are examined so as to determine those thathave a stronger effect on minority students.For this study, interviews were carried out with three students, and questionnaires were alsoadministered. From the analysis, it is observed that ethnic minority students suffer negativeeffects from being in a cultural minority and often feel dominated by the surroundingculture. Also, they develop less positive attitudes towards their studies because of loweremployment expectations, difficulties of adapting to a new setting and less preparation intheir earlier education.It is suggested that in order to create a more favourable environment for ethnic minoritystudents, steps must be taken to create a better psychological atmosphere for minoritystudents. Also, steps should be taken to improve social contact between students and toenhance the process of group work.The main limitations of the study are time, scope and cost. To be able to carry out a morein-depth study of school performance, it is important to perform more interviews andsurveys, covering a longer time frame.

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