From policy rhetoric to reality: the experiences of Southeast Asian science and engineering graduate students in Korea

  • Bo-Kyung Byun
  • Hyejoo JungEmail author


The presence of international students on campus does not necessarily lead to meaningful interactions between domestic and international students; findings in the literature reveal that Southeast Asian students are frequently targeted by prejudice and discrimination in the context of Korean higher education. This study aims to better reveal the dynamics behind such discrimination by examining the experiences of Southeast Asian students at a case study university in Korea. Focusing on science and engineering graduate schools due to their unique context, the study triangulates the perspectives of Southeast Asian students, Korean students, and professors. It attempts to understand the interactions among these different actors as well as the various factors shaping their responses. Based on Allport’s Contact Theory, findings reveal that individual, interpersonal, institutional, and environmental factors seem to prevent positive contact among Korean and Southeast Asian students within a lab, thus leading to the latter’s academic and social marginalization. This portends that addressing the current gap between policy rhetoric and reality will be crucial in overcoming identified obstacles to meaningful intergroup interaction on campus.


Internationalization of higher education Internationalization at home Southeast Asian international students Science and engineering graduate schools Discrimination Contact theory 



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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationSeoul National UniversityGwanak-gu, SeoulRepublic of Korea

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