Fears, Anxieties, Security and Traumas (FAST): informing decision-making to facilitate host and sending country coordination affecting current international students post Covid breakout.

Presenter: Khalaf Al’Abri
Authors and Affiliations:
Khalaf Al’Abri, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman
Aneta Hayes, Keele University, UK


In the wake of the Covid 19 outbreak, most analyses have focused on study plans of prospective international students (e.g. QS Quacquarelli Symonds or Studyportals), to estimate the damage to future global mobility. However, not enough attention has been paid to Fears, Anxieties, Security and Traumas (FAST) that Covid 19 has created for current international students, specifically with respect to their mental health. In this presentation, we report on the findings from a FAST survey with 621 Omani students studying around the world which shows urgency in coordinating mental health support for international students between agencies of the receiving and sending countries, to ensure their socio-economic security in the country of education, as well as after their return home. The study findings show that fewer than 50% of the survey respondents agree that they have received adequate psycho-social support from their universities and only 42% agree that they have had support from members of the public. The findings also show that about 50% of current students are very concerned about catching COVID-19 and 80% are concerned about their loved ones. Over 80% of students said they are afraid of COVID-19 and about 50% of these feel helpless about the COVID-19 situation. Overall, in the presentation, we will share critical data that can be used a) as a policy resource and a resource pack ‘FASTkit’ to facilitate host and sending country coordination affecting current international students (those who stayed and those currently in sending countries) and b) to help shape local university practices to offer adequate mental health support for their international students. We theorise our findings and recommendations through conceptual lenses which highlight the ‘dual existence’ of international students, whereby being torn between two regulatory regimes (those of the sending countries and those of the countries of education) offers little protection to international students.

About Authors

Dr. Khalaf Al’Abri

Affiliation/s: Sultan Qaboos University, Oman
Email: kabri@squ.edu.om

Khalaf Al’Abri is an assistant professor of education policies at the College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University. He gained his MA and PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia. Dr. Al’Abri is currently the Director of the Main Library at the university. Khalaf is interested in researching education policies in the Arab Gulf states with specific focus on the impact of globalization on those policies. Higher education is another area of research that Dr. Al’Abri is nowadays studying with attention to internationalization and Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, global citizenship education is among the current focuses that Dr. Al’Abri is researching and promoting in Oman and the Arab World. Khalaf has published in various international journals and presented widely in international conferences around the world.

Dr Aneta Hayes

Affiliation/s: Keele University, UK
Email: a.m.hayes@keele.ac.uk

Aneta has written widely, in high impact peer-reviewed journals, about internationalization and inclusion of international students. Her recent monograph ‘Inclusion, Epistemic Democracy and International Students: the Teaching Excellence Framework and Education Policy’ tackles systemic constructions of international students and their role in creating conditions for their exclusion. Beyond academia, Aneta has been invited to give policy briefings about teaching excellence in higher education and international students and has submitted parliamentary briefings. Aneta is an Executive Editor of Teaching in Higher Education and is regularly reviewing for journals such as HERD or Critical Studies in Education.

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