Exploring factors affecting first-year students’ learning experiences: A case study of a private university in Taiwan
Taiwan’s low birth rate and declining demand for higher education among the country’s high school graduates has led to vigorous competition between Taiwanese universities to attract and retain students. Increasing international student enrolment can help alleviate these existing pressures. However, the transition from high school to university life and the need to study in a degree program with English as the primary medium of instruction, can present challenges for first-year students. We aimed to investigate First Year (FY) Taiwanese and non-Taiwanese students’ learning experiences and the barriers they face at a private university. The key research findings are based on factors affecting FY students’ learning experiences such as interactive teaching techniques, peer support, program attributes, social integration, and the international learning environment. We argue that for higher education institutions (HEIs) to stand out in a highly competitive environment, university management should optimise their resources and services to meet local and international students’ needs.