This research examines the understandings and experiences of mono-cultural, mono-lingual local students in relation to intercultural interactions within small group learning activities at university. Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus and capital are employed to illuminate a number of barriers to intercultural interaction. Using qualitative analysis of interviews with local students, the study revealed intercultural interactions to be co-shaped by multiple co-existing, interdependent and often competing structural and contextual elements, as well as the personal dispositions that students bring to the classroom. The field tends to privilege the capital held by local students (knowledge of small group work, verbal confidence, language), and imposes structural limits on interactions. While students' habitus mediates this effect, the overall result discourages interactions between local students and those from different cultural backgrounds. Implications for universities are discussed.