One of the main arguments for unfair treatment of NNESTs and hiring policies, by which NESTs are prioritized and given precedence over NNESTs, is that students prefer to be taught by NESTs. The aim of this study is to investigate whether students share such preference, and explore what their attitudes towards NESTs and NNESTs are. The study involved 40 students, enrolled in the first and second year of the M.A. program in English language, at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka. The findings reveal that the majority do not perceive NESTs superior to NNESTs, but indicate both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. The students mainly emphasize NESTs' language proficiency, standard pronunciation and advanced communication skills. They describe them as confident and praise NESTs' flexible teaching, authentic materials and broad
culture knowledge, while they advance scarce grammar knowledge, lack of explicit knowledge about language and inability to understand learners' needs and difficulties as NESTs' weaknesses. The students hold that the fact NNESTs are language learners as well, enables them to predict learners' needs and difficulties, and understand how language is learned and taught better. However, they address NNESTs have problems with pronunciation, do not focus enough on interaction and seem less confident. The students mainly express no preference regarding a NEST or a NNEST holding a course, or a NEST's or NNEST's
teaching methods, but have a clear preference regarding who they want to teach them different language skills. Throughout the questionnaire, the majority emphasize that personal and professional qualities, pedagogical skills and knowledge of ELT methodology, not nativeness, ensure teacher competence.