The impact of COVID-19 on Chinese international students in Scotland

Xi Liu, Nicola Cogan, Eilidh Colquhoun, Emily McEwan, Jennifer Moore, Susan Sly

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: All university students have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Chinese international students studying in Scotland/the UK may face additional stressors, such as discrimination and hate crime (Zhai & Du, 2020). This study aims to explore the impact of COVID-19 on Chinese international students’ academic study and wellbeing (including physical, social, and mental). Methods: This study adopted a qualitative methodology and a purposive sample of 13 Chinese international students were recruited (Braun & Clarke, 2015, recommended a sample size of 10 for pilot research). The data has been collected through individual, semi-structured online interviews with each participant using Zoom. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Clarke & Braun, 2018) has been used to analyse the data. Results: In the interviews, the participants discussed a range of challenges they face during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also mentioned their coping strategies and made suggestions for improving the wellbeing services provided by the university. Qualitative analysis revealed four themes: dissatisfaction with the university experience, exacerbation of existing socio-cultural difficulties, mental health effects of social isolation, and tendency to adopt self-reliant coping styles.Discussion: Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the unique challenges and stressors faced by Chinese international students during COVID-19. The findings could help to enhance the cultural knowledge and capacity of higher education staff involved in supporting Chinese international students (e.g., Student Counsellor, Student Support Officer), and to inform the potential development of more culturally sensitive support systems, programmes, and interventions for Chinese international students.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2021
EventBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2021 - Online
Duration: 29 Jun 202130 Jun 2021


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleDHP 2021
Internet address


  • Covid-19
  • international students
  • discrimination
  • Scotland


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