Internationalization of UiA: Communication with International Students
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The University of Agder is an international university, that welcomes over 350 exchange students every year. Local internationalization is one of the main priorities of UiA’s strategy.The way UiA communicates with international students affects many aspects of local internationalization. This research aims to define What role does communication play in local internationalization? To answer this research question, it was necessary to study communication with international students, define main strategies and evaluate the outcomes of communication. The sub-questions of this research are: 1) How and for what purposes does UiA communicate with international students?2) What communication strategies are used for communication with international students?3) What are the outcomes of the current communication system? The theoretical basis of the thesis includes early research of international students in Norway, corporate communication theory, and organizational communication theory. To build an understanding of communication strategies, this research introduces excellence theory, integration of communication disciplines, dialog and rhetoric theoretical approaches. The methodological framework includes qualitative semi-structured interviews for data collection, and thematic analysis approach to analyze the data. Participants in this research are representatives of four UiA organizations: The Global Lounge, the International Office, the Communication Division and The Student Organization in Agder. Analysis of findings helped to define three main purposes of communication with international students. The findings reveal main strategies, where the establishment of the Global Lounge is a central strategy to build close relations with international students. It was also founded, that other organizations at UiA, that do not work with an international audience in particular, have no established relations with international students. Therefore, their communication activities do not always include international students. There are several outcomes of the current communication system at UiA which affect local internationalization. Communication that is carried out by the organizations that work with an international audience, ensures the well-being of international students and unites international students. While overall communication at UiA, which includes other organizations, does not promote interaction between international and national students.