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The pandemic has affected all spheres of life and overseas education has not been spared.  International students are among the most affected by the disruptions, including travel restrictions and increased cases of hate crimes, discrimination, prejudice and bias. At the moment, there is no conclusive study that has investigated how the negative environment caused by the pandemic has impacted the attitudes and perceptions of international students towards studying in foreign countries (Cabral, 2020). The research focused on Asian international students in the United States. The pandemic has resulted in a negative environment has been a rise in the cases of anti-Asian hate crimes and prejudice against Asians in the US, including international students. The research was based on the experiences of Asian international students who have been victims of the rising anti-Asian hate, directly or indirectly. The toxic environment has psychological impacts on all people of Asian origins. A qualitative survey was used. Focus groups were used to collect data from a sample size of 20 Asian international students studying in the USA. The analysis of the focus group responses indicates that Asian American international students in the USA feel demoralized, fearful and generally have a negative attitude towards studying in a foreign country due to the rise in anti-Asian hate during the pandemic.


Studying in a foreign country is a dream for many students. It is an opportunity to travel and learn in a new environment. The motivations to learn in foreign countries are many. International students are seeking to experience a different culture. Learning in a foreign country is an opportunity to learn new languages, make new friends and generally get exposure to other cultures. It is an exciting experience. International students are also looking forward to better career opportunities once they are done with their studies. These are students who intend to stay longer or settle permanently in the host country after finishing their studies.

For most students from developing countries, studying in foreign countries means getting a better quality of education and training. Because of these positive expectations, international students are often overly optimistic and expect a smooth study and a generally positive learning experience in foreign countries (Katz, Gravelin, & McCabe, 2021). International students arrive in the host country with a positive attitude towards the country and its people. They have a favorable perception of overseas studies. This is an essential part of studying in a foreign country. Good learning begins with a positive attitude and perceptions about the host country and the people. However, attitudes and perceptions are not permanent. Attitudes and perceptions change according to one’s experiences.

The proposed research investigates how the pandemic affected international students’ perceptions towards studying in foreign countries. The emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020 came with unprecedented disruptions. It came with fear, anxiety and government-imposed restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. International students had to deal with a new environment in foreign countries (Gao & Liu, 2021). Some international students could not travel back to their countries for months, while some were subjected to discrimination and hate crimes.

The proposed research uses the experience of Asian international students in the United States as a case study to investigate how the pandemic has impacted the perceptions of international students towards studying in foreign countries. One of the undesirable impacts of the pandemic in the USA is the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Therefore, the research will involve Asian international students in the United States. The focus of the study is to understand how the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes has impacted their perceptions about the host country. This data can only be collected by sampling the views and opinions of students of Asian origins.

Generally, I am interested in understanding how international students perceive studying in foreign countries since the pandemic began. In particular, I would like to investigate if the experiences of Asian international students during the pandemic have changed their perceptions towards studying in the United States. The aspects the research will explore includes the students’ experiences, challenges, and difficulties during the pandemic and how these have impacted their attitudes or changed their perceptions towards studying in the United States. The increase in cases of hate crimes targeting Asian international students in the USA is obviously a negative experience for the students.  Some of them may have been victims of these hate crimes, either directly or having family and friends who were attacked. In the proposed research, hate crimes will be used as a term that includes physical assault, prejudice, bias and discrimination.

Research question: In what way has the pandemic affected international students’ perceptions towards studying in foreign countries?


Literature review

The United States is among the preferred destination for Asian students seeking advanced higher education. There are thousands of Asian international students in the country pursuing undergraduate, master and Ph.D. studies. According to statistics from the US department of education, the majority of international students in the United States are from China and India. Asian students make up almost half of the international student population in the United States. Asian international students are attracted to the United States as a destination for study by three major pull factors. First, American universities have a global reputation for top-quality education. Universities in the United States are always ranked the best, with Ivy League colleges such as Harvard and Princeton to mid-level colleges that have high academic standards. The certifications from these universities are in high demand in many countries due to the high-quality training they offer.  International students leave their countries to study in the United States with the knowledge that they will receive world class training which will put them ahead in the job market once they are back into their countries.

The second pull factor is cultural diversity.  The country is culturally diverse, with people from all parts of the world. This diversity is reflected in the student population and is also integrated into the teaching approaches used by the universities. Studying in the USA is a chance to get exposure through interaction with students and instructors from diverse cultures. The top universities attract students from all over the world which created a blend of cultures. Learning in a culturally diverse environment not only enhances the levels of exposure but also an opportunity for networking on a global scale.

The third factor is flexible academic programs (Katz, Gravelin, & McCabe, 2021). The universities offer both residential and remote study models. Asian international students tend to choose residential study models where they travel to the US with the hopes of securing jobs that are better paying compared to the jobs available in their home countries. Lastly, the availability of partially and fully funded scholarships is another key pull factor that motivates students to study overseas especially in American universities. These scholarships are offered to students from developing countries who do not have adequate financial resources to meet the expenses of studies in the United states. Because of these pull factors, Asian students who arrive in the United States for studies have high expectations.

The covid-19 pandemic came at a time when international study was booming. A definitive trend in foreign study is the movement from the developing countries into the more developed ones. The pattern of movement indicates a preference for universities in the United States, Australia and Europe. This is attributed to the aspects of quality, diversity and the availability of scholarships. International students who immigrate into these countries to study have to learn a new culture and cope with the culture shock. The pandemic came with more than a culture shock. It has so far subjected international students to stress and the threat of hate crimes.  From the mid-2020, cases of anti-Asian hate crimes have increased globally (Gao & Liu, 2021). The fact that the virus emerged from China caused mass apprehension towards people of Asian origins.

As the pandemic became more serious, stereotypes about Asians and, in particular, the Chinese emerged. The story of the pandemic having emerged from a Chinese animal market fueled the perception that Chinese eating habits was responsible for the global outbreak of the pandemic. People of Chinese origin were blamed and shunned in many countries. The situation has been worse in the United States, where the hate turned into actual violence (Gover, Harper & Langton, 2020). Videos emerged of people of Asian origins being attacked in the streets. These attacks targeted all people of Asian origin, including Asian international students. Hate crimes include actual physical assaults, threats, and intimidation, as well as discrimination directed at people from particular racial or cultural origins.

In the US, the increased cases of hate crimes during the pandemic are attributed to the origin of the virus in China. The coronavirus was first reported in China and later spread to all countries. A section of the US society blames Asians for being responsible for the pandemic and have resorted to venting their frustrations by attacking people of Asian origin. These attacks are indiscriminate and the perpetrators victimize Asians of all cultural and national backgrounds, including Chinese, Koreans, Indians and Southeast Asians. These attacks have caused a generalized fear and anxiety within the general Asian community in the United States. The most impacted are international students (Katz, Gravelin, & McCabe, 2021). The students are on study visas and more vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic, including attacks, discrimination and prejudice in their learning environment. Hate crimes happen in all settings, including on campus.

While it is assumed that institutions of education are generally safer, all indications are that colleges are also risky grounds for international students. The cases of prejudice, bias, and discrimination may not be extreme within colleges, but the environment is just as toxic as it is in other settings. A major factor that enables hate crimes on campus is that hate crimes and serious biases are not reported to the police. This means the cases are not investigated promptly and the appropriate actions taken. The campus administrations in many colleges do not keep track of the hate crimes. Most of the victims also do not see the need to report the crimes due to the fear of reprisals. The pandemic has made the hate crimes even worse, with most campuses now dealing with multiple cases of hate crimes, some of which involve assaults of threats of violence.

In addition to the physical injuries that victims of hate crimes sustain, there are emotional and psychological impacts that members of the targeted community experience. First, those who are attacked or witness members of their community being attacked develop fear and a sense of insecurity. The victims of hate crimes feel isolated and unwanted in public spaces. They begin to cope with the isolation by shying away from public spaces. This coping mechanism only worsens the impacts of stress and anxiety. In addition, the fear of attacks leads to a general apprehension and lack of socialization with other members of society. With the rise in cases of attacks, Asians and Asian Americans have been avoiding public spaces for fear of attack and discrimination. Exposure to mental health problems is a reason for international students to change their attitudes towards studying in a foreign country.

Secondly, the sense of collective victimization results to increased levels of stress and anxiety. International students subjected to discrimination and prejudice tends to be more vulnerable to stress, depression and other more serious forms of mental health problems. The physical and emotional impacts of hate crimes are more severe among the actual victims. With reference to Asian international students in the USA, the blame and attacks directed towards the Asian community impact how they perceive their host country (Gao & Liu, 2021). When international students are subjected to negative experiences, they begin to rethink their choices. This is because the negative experiences begin to outweigh all the pull factors that motivated them to seek study opportunities in the foreign country in the first place.


Methods with justifications


The proposed research will use a qualitative survey. This is a methodology that is less structured and effective in gaining a deeper understanding of people’s underlying motivations and reasoning. This design is also descriptive in that the information collected is used to describe and explain the subject of interest. This is a research design that seeks to capture the participants’ views and feelings about the subject matter. A qualitative design enables researchers to examine what the participants think by analyzing their responses to a set of questions. This design is appropriate for this particular study because it is aligned with the research question. The research question is subjective in that it can be answered by the personal views expressed by the research participants. The design will also give me a wide range of responses to analyze.

Sample and sample size

The research will target Asian international students currently studying in the United States universities and colleges. The sample size will comprise 20 participants. A survey requires a larger sample size to get more representative data. The response from 20 students who have been direct and indirect victims of hate crimes is fairly representative of the larger community of Asian international students (Wu, Qian & Wilkes, 2021). Additionally, the sample size is big enough to guarantee the generalizability of the findings to the entire international student population. The participants will be targeted through a purposive sampling method. This is a sampling method where only participants who meet the stated criteria are selected for the research. In this case, the criterion for inclusion is: adults international students who have studied in the United States for at least three months. The participants will be accessed through a referral system. The first participants to be identified will be requested to recruit their peers/classmates into the research. The purposive sampling approach is relevant for this study because the responses needed are specific. The responses must come from Asian international students who have had some experience with hate crimes, either while on campus or outside.

Data collection

Data will be collected through focus groups. Focus groups are essentially a form of group interviews where participants answer questions as they express their feelings and opinions about the subject matter. From the discussions between the participants and the researcher, it is possible to note down the major points and analyze the participant’s feelings and attitudes (Jansen, 2010). This data collection method is appropriate since it best captures the participants’ reactions to their experiences in a way that a quantitative approach would not. Due to time limitations and distance, the focus group discussions will be conducted through Skype meetings. The 20 participants will be divided into four groups of five participants each. The four focus groups session will require four days to gather enough information.

Ethical concerns

In conducting the survey, it will be important to consider the ethics of research. Research involving human subjects are strictly regulated with specific ethical principles that must be upheld. The subject of research is sensitive since hate crimes have real-life impacts on the health and wellbeing of the participants. The first ethical consideration to be observed is consent. This is the most important aspect of research (Gill & Baillie, 2018). All participants in the research will only engage in the focus groups after consenting. Informed consent means giving consent voluntarily and after being supplied with all the relevant details of the research. In this case, all potential participants will be given full details of the research, including its objectives and scope. The second ethical consideration is confidentiality. All information collected in the course of interaction with the participants will be kept confidential and not shared with any third parties without the consent or knowledge of the participants.


Qualitative instrument

  1. Have you, a family member, or a friend been a victim of an anti-Asian hate crime?
  2. What goes through your mind when you are targeted/witness or hear about anti-Asian hate crimes?
  3. Why do you think anti-Asian crime keeps on occurring?
  4. What has been the emotional/psychological impact of these crimes?
  5. Have these crimes impacted your education? Maybe your interest in studying in the country?
  6. Have these hate crimes changed how you view your host country? How?
  7. Are you planning on staying in the country once you complete your education?



Cabral, S (2020). Covid ‘hate crimes against Asian Americans on the rise. Retrieved from   

Gao, Q., & Liu, X. (2021). Stand against anti-Asian racial discrimination during COVID-19: A    call for action. International Social Work64(2), 261-264.

Gover, A. R., Harper, S. B., & Langton, L. (2020). Anti-Asian hate crime during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the reproduction of inequality. American Journal of Criminal     Justice45(4), 647-667.

Gill, P., & Baillie, J. (2018). Interviews and focus groups in qualitative research: an update for     the digital age. British dental journal225(7), 668-672.

Jansen, H. (2010). The logic of qualitative survey research and its position in the field of social    research methods. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social            Research (Vol. 11, No. 2).

Katz, J., Gravelin, C., & McCabe, E. (2021). White US College Students’ Perceptions Of             Prospective International Students Differ By Race And Stereotypical Attributes. Journal          of Comparative & International Higher Education13(4), 135-148.

Tessler, H., Choi, M., & Kao, G. (2020). The anxiety of being Asian American: Hate crimes and negative biases during the COVID-19 pandemic. American Journal of Criminal       Justice45(4), 636-646.

Wu, C., Qian, Y., & Wilkes, R. (2021). Anti-Asian discrimination and the Asian-white mental     health gap during COVID-19. Ethnic and Racial Studies44(5), 819-835.

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