19/02/2024 09:40 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Associate Professor Dr. Siti Noor Fazelah Mohd Noor

Modern universities are known for their diversity and constant change, making strong communication skills crucial for students’ academic performance, personal development, and social integration.

On the other hand, a significant number of students face obstacles to communication that go beyond their level of language proficiency. It is possible that, despite their linguistic abilities, they have difficulty expressing their thoughts and ideas in a coherent manner, which ultimately hinders their academic progress and their ability to interact with others.

This article presents the fundamental problems that are associated with communication difficulties in educational institutions and suggests methods that can be utilised to both prevent and address these problems at the institutional level.

Due to the complexity of communication, the ability to communicate encompasses more than just the ability to speak a language. The ability to effectively communicate one’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas while responding appropriately to a wide variety of situations and audiences is required.

However, the nuances of expression, cultural sensitivity and interpersonal dynamics all play equally significant roles in successful communication. Language skills are unquestionably important, but they are not the only essential components.

Students are confronted with a wide variety of communication difficulties in the context of the university, which are caused by a number of different factors:

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Universities are melting pots of cultures and languages, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds. While this diversity enriches the learning environment, it also creates communication barriers due to differences in language proficiency, communication styles and cultural norms.

Academic Demands: Academic communication often requires specialised vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and the ability to articulate complex ideas. Students may struggle to meet these demands, particularly if they lack adequate academic preparation or support.

Social and Interpersonal Dynamics: Building relationships, collaborating on projects and participating in group discussions are integral aspects of university life. However, students may find it challenging to navigate social interactions, express themselves assertively or resolve conflicts effectively.

Technology and Digital Communication: With the increasing reliance on technology for communication, students must navigate the complexities of digital platforms, online etiquette, and virtual collaboration. Misunderstandings and miscommunications can arise due to the lack of face-to-face interaction and nonverbal cues.

Preventative measures at the level of the university

University administrations have the ability to implement the following strategies in order to proactively address these communication challenges:

Integrated Language Support Programmes: Offer comprehensive language support programmes that cater to students’ diverse needs, including language proficiency assessments, remedial classes, and language exchange initiatives. These programmes should focus not only on language skills but also on academic and professional communication strategies.

Cultural Competency Training: For the purpose of enhancing students’ cultural awareness and sensitivity, it is recommended that workshops, seminars and cultural immersion experiences be provided. In order to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of diversity, it is important to encourage dialogue and collaboration across cultural boundaries.

Academic Writing and Communication Courses: The development of communication skills should be incorporated into the curriculum through the administration of specialised classes or modules that focus on academic writing, presentation skills, and critical thinking. In order to assist students in improving their communication skills, it is important to provide them with constructive feedback and support.

Peer Mentoring and Support Networks: Peer mentoring programmes should be established so that more experienced students can provide guidance and support to their peers, particularly those who are having difficulty communicating with one another. Develop your self-assurance and social skills by increasing the number of opportunities for informal interactions with your peers.

Technology-Enhanced Learning Platforms: Utilise technology to develop interactive learning environments that make it easier for students to communicate with one another and work together. Students can be engaged and their digital communication skills can be improved by incorporating virtual classrooms, online forums, and multimedia resources into their educational experience.

Faculty Training and Development: For the purpose of enhancing students’ cultural awareness and sensitivity, it is recommended that workshops, seminars, and cultural immersion experiences be provided. In order to cultivate an understanding and appreciation of diversity, it is important to encourage dialogue and collaboration across cultural boundaries.

Counselling and Student Support Services: Students who are experiencing anxiety related to communication, language barriers, or social isolation should have access to counselling services and support groups. Resources and referrals should be made available to assist students in overcoming both personal and academic challenges.

In the context of higher education, the ability to communicate effectively is essential to both academic achievement and personal development.

Universities are able to create environments that are inclusive and supportive for students with communication difficulties by recognising and addressing the underlying issues that cause these difficulties. These environments allow students to flourish intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

Universities have the ability to empower students to overcome communication barriers and achieve success in their academic pursuits by implementing a combination of proactive measures, integrated support services, and cultural sensitivity.


Assoc Prof Dr Siti Noor Fazelah Mohd Noor is Head, Centre For Communication Science Research, at Centre for Language Studies, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM).

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and AWS and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)