International Saudi Arabia Students’ Level of Preparedness

Identifying Factors and Maximizing Study Abroad Experience Using a Mixed-Methods Approach




academic literacy, Cross-cultural understanding, higher education, international students, Saudi students, socialization, study abroad


Given that students’ level of preparedness for study abroad is malleable, this study aimed to assess Saudi students’ level of preparedness academically and socioculturally to enhance their overseas experiences and success in higher education. Using a mixed methods research design consisting of survey data, semistructured interviews, and case studies with undergraduate and graduate students in a predeparture Saudi context and those enrolled in U.S. programs, the study provides empirical data to understand students’ intent to study abroad, local institutions’ contributions to preparation, and challenges encountered. Findings across datasets corroborated that Saudi students are highly motivated, while articulating the need for substantive supports toward a better understanding of U.S. higher education, academic expectations, and sociocultural practices. Participants articulated the need for advanced English skills, especially academic literacies (academic writing and reading strategies) to cope with demanding workloads in graduate programs. The study discusses curricular implications for higher education in binational contexts.

Author Biographies

Janina Brutt-Griffler, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, USA

JANINA BRUTT-GRIFFLER, PhD, is Professor in English Education and Vice Dean for International Education and Language Programs at The State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY). She also serves as Director of the Center for Comparative and Global Studies in Education. Professor Brutt-Griffler’s research interests include policy and evaluation in higher education, bilingual curricula and theory of language development, and sociolinguistics of English as a global language. She is the Editor of the International Journal of Applied Linguistics (Wiley-Blackwell). She has published award winning books (World English: A Study of its Development, English and Ethnicity, and Bilingualism and Language Pedagogy) as well as numerous peer-reviewed articles. She regularly teaches graduate seminars in sociolinguistics and policy, applied linguistics, research in English in higher education, and language learning theory

Mohammad Nurunnabi, Prince Sultan University, Saudi Arabia

MOHAMMAD NURUNNABI, PhD, CMA, SFHEA, FRSA, FAIA (Acad), CMBE, is the Aide to the President on Research, Ranking and Internationalization, and Chair of the Department of Accounting at Prince Sultan University, Saudi Arabia. He is an Academic Visitor (Senior Member) of St Antony's College, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom. His most recent book is The Role of the State and Accounting Transparency (Routledge: London and New York). He currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of PSU Research Review: An International Journal, Emerald, and Senior Associate Editor of Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer (SCOPUS Indexed). He has published over 100 articles in international journals including ABDC Ranked, ERA Ranked, ABS Ranked and Scopus/ISI indexed. He is one of the founding leaders of the Global Education Policy Network (GEPN).

Sumi Kim, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, USA

SUMI KIM, PhD, is a Research Fellow in the Center for Comparative and Global Studies in Education at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Kim’s research interests include bi/multilingual development, transnationalism and academic mobility, social equity through education and training, and digital literacy. Her current research focuses on language education reform for international K-12 students’ multiliteracy development through English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI). She has taught linguistics, applied linguistics, and second language acquisition for master’s students at the State University of New York at Buffalo.


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How to Cite

Brutt-Griffler, J., Nurunnabi, M., & Kim, S. (2020). International Saudi Arabia Students’ Level of Preparedness: Identifying Factors and Maximizing Study Abroad Experience Using a Mixed-Methods Approach. Journal of International Students, 10(4), 976–1004.



Research Articles (English)