This paper presents the initial results of ongoing PhD research, which investigates the perceived intercultural competence and second language (L2) learning motivation of Chinese and Irish students in higher education in Ireland. Literature shows that the integration level can be determined by students’ intercultural contact frequency and L2 motivation. The main findings of this research show that i) integration between Irish and Chinese students is limited as their intercultural contact is restricted to academic environments; ii) intercultural contact does not necessarily imply an increase in perceived intercultural competence; iii) L2 learning promotes intercultural competence in the integration process and iv) while instrumental motivation is high among both groups of learners, Chinese students show more socio-cultural motivation than Irish students, and v) the level of self-determined motivation influences the success of the integration process of Chinese students. The paper concludes with an outline of further research to be undertaken which will contribute to recommendations on how the academic, social and intercultural opportunities of a diverse student body can be maximised.