Academic Integration of Mainland Chinese Students in Germany

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Academic Integration of Mainland Chinese Students in Germany

  • Hanwei Li Faculty of Education, University of Tampere, Finland, and Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology, University of Bielefeld, Germany

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Abstract:  This article presents an analysis of the academic integration experiences of mainland Chinese tertiary-level students in Germany. Using Tinto’s model, the article explores the challenges that Chinese students face during their academic integration, the strategies they employ, and the relationship between academic and social integration. The data were collected in spring 2016 by interviewing 26 mainland Chinese students studying either in German universities or universities of applied sciences. Four major challenges were identified and analyzed: language barrier, knowledge gap, pedagogical differences, and cultural differences. An important outcome of the study presented is that social integration serves as a facilitator for enhancing academic integration, but is not a prerequisite for academic success. Group learning with peers was found to enhance learning outcomes. Overall, Chinese students have exploited their own advantages in academic integration by exploring feasible strategies and benefiting from their past learning experiences. It is suggested that academic integration as a long and challenging process for international students should be acknowledged by the German HEIs, and that more institutional support and guidance are needed.

Keywords:  academic integration; Chinese student; Germany; higher education; social integration

Published:   28 March 2017


© Hanwei Li. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.