Internationalisation at home? Home and international students' integration into engineering education
Licentiatavhandling, 2022

Internationalisation is a strategy for over 90 percent of universities and student mobility is a key part of that strategy. At the same time, home and international students do not tend to mix. Recent government initiatives in Sweden have stressed the need for all students to develop their intercultural competence, yet only a small minority will travel.

The concept of internationalisation at home argues that students can benefit from the exchange of ideas and broadened horizons on their own campuses, through bringing together home and international students. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the process of integration from a student perspective (both home and international), in particular, the effect of practices like intercultural group work on academic and social integration. Intercultural group work has been interpreted as students from different nationalities working in pairs or groups in a course. For engineering students, intercultural group work is an essential skill for the global workplace many will work in.

Using a co-constructivist approach, the two appended articles present data collected through interviews and through student diaries, to build a picture of student experiences of integration into engineering education, including academic, social, human and structural elements.

There are four key findings. Firstly, in-depth interviews revealed the complexity within the categories of “home” and “international” student experiences in group work. The feeling of being an insider in a group is affected by many more factors than nationality such as previous experience, the nature of the group work and personal aspects like openness and adaptability. Secondly, the longitudinal nature of the first study revealed critical incidents within the groups which affected the group dynamics. Thirdly, diary data showed the students’ appreciation of intercultural pair work in bridging the academic and social divide that can be experienced at the start of a programme. Finally, the use of an integration model highlighted the importance of looking at both human and structural factors in planning intercultural group work.

These findings suggest the importance of a pedagogical structure around intercultural group work. Intercultural group work can facilitate integration, but care is needed. The teacher plays a crucial role in forming the groups, supporting them and facilitating the project in other ways, such as choice of task. The findings also suggest a programme perspective, such that consideration is given to timing of pair and group activities in the programme as a whole.

engineering education

international students

intercultural group work

home students


intercultural competence

internationalisation at home

Seminar room 1, library and Zoom
Opponent: Professor Jan Van Maele, KU Leuven, Belgium


Becky Bergman

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Fackspråk och kommunikation




Pedagogiskt arbete

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete

Licentiate theses - Department of Communication and Learning in Science, Chalmers University of Technology: 2022:1



Seminar room 1, library and Zoom


Opponent: Professor Jan Van Maele, KU Leuven, Belgium

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