Paul Tai Yip Ng Memorial Award

Paul Tai Yip Ng Memorial Award 2020: Louisa Plant

March 15, 2021

"How Do International Students Understand the Concept of 'Integration', and How Does this Relate to Their Experiences Settling into Life in a Host Country" by Louisa Plant

The number of international students in tertiary education has soared in recent decades, driven by rising student demand and countries competing to boost their economic and human capital. International students are often considered “ideal” migrants, yet they are frequently overlooked in the integration literature despite having the same vulnerabilities as other immigrants. This exploratory study investigates what integration means according to 16 Indian students who studied at Canadian postsecondary institutions. Via interviews and a survey, it found participants had a multicultural understanding of integration that emphasizes sociopolitical and, secondarily, economic dimensions. This understanding differs from dominant conceptualizations of multicultural integration as it underscores the role of the immigrant in being open to other cultures, and considers “horizontal” processes of integration to be as important as “vertical” factors such as immigration policies. Participants’ adjustment strategies and trajectories were affected by their views on what integration should mean; their existing economic, social and cultural capital; and their original motivations for moving to Canada. Highlighting how integration is highly context-dependent, this study reveals processes that are commonly overlooked by theories and measures of integration.

Congratulations to Ms. Louisa Plant, who won our 2020 Best Graduate Student Paper award. Louisa's interest in immigration and integration was ignited by her experiences as a foreign student in Italy and Canada.

Louisa studied for her undergraduate degree in History of Art from the University of Bristol in the UK, which included a year studying at the British Institute of Florence in Italy. Louisa moved from London to Vancouver in August 2018 to pursue her master’s at SFU, and was thankful to have Dr John Harriss and Dr Irene Pang as her thesis supervisors. Louisa found studying as an international student to be a refreshing and rewarding experience, but also noticed profound challenges facing many foreign students, including difficulties that were not reflected in the academic literature.

Louisa is currently working for international consulting firm Nordicity and the National LIP Secretariat, a pilot project to improve collaboration and collective representation among Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs) across Canada.