Evidence now calls into question the efficacy and appropriateness of pedagogical practices that force international students to adapt to eurocentric expectations when they enrol in tertiary education outside their home country and cultural environment. In response to calls for alternative perspectives, this article introduces the educational philosophy of ubuntu, an african worldview prioritising humanness and interconnectedness, and utilises it as a conceptual lens to examine the key tenets of engaging pedagogical practices in teaching international students. Based on a research project in australia, the aim of which was to analyse teachers adaptation of pedagogical practices in accommodating international students, the authors findings point to three main ways in which the ubuntu principle can manifest in teaching international students: (1) humanness; (2) interconnectedness; and (3) situatedness. This article offers new insights into how an under-researched, non-western philosophy ubuntu can serve to conceptualise international education practice. In doing so, it contributes to theory building and at the same time provokes consideration of an alternative pedagogical lens. In particular, this article draws on ubuntu as a critical framework to challenge conventional ways of viewing international students as the other in our educational system. 2019, Unesco institute for lifelong learning and springer nature b.V.