International school students: transient learners? Sojourners?1 min read


Many international schools were established to serve expatriate diplomats, military personnel and business leaders, offering a level of consistency for the children of such “nomadic professionals” (Polt, 2011). Taipei European School is one such school, with combined British, French and German sections serving those nations’ expatriates as well as those of other European countries. Indeed, one of the defining characteristics of international schools  (cited in Marshall, 2014, p. 189) is a “transient population” and teaching staff, greater than in state schools.

In discussing such students (Zhu, 2016, pp. 21-22) some scholars use the term student sojourner, which are defined by three key characteristics:

  1. They have voluntarily left their home countries in order to obtain an education
  2. They have no intention of permanent settlement in the host country
  3. They typically do not try to integrate into the host country

This definition applies to a great many of the student body at TES, but there is another, larger group of students who are Taiwanese nationals who own a second passport. It is by this means that a student is deemed to be an ‘international’ student by the Taiwanese government and is allowed to study at an international school like TES.

Many of these students obtained their passports because their parents have citizenship elsewhere (commonly in the US, UK, Hong Kong or Singapore), or because their parents bought their child a second passport from a nation such as Burkina Faso.


Marshall, J. (2014). Introduction to Comparative and International Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Polt, M. (2011). The importance of international schools [Online], available from:
schools/ [Accessed 23rd October, 2018].

Zhu, J. (2016). Chinese Overseas Students and Intercultural Learning Environments: Academic Adjustment, Adaptation and Experience. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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