Re-imagining the Internationalisation of Higher Education: a Case Study of a UK University

Tomasz John

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis seeks to explore how international postgraduate students and university staff dealing with internationalisation take advantage of the opportunities and/or tackle the challenges that globalisation and international education have brought to the landscape of Higher Education (HE) in the UK. As the majority of studies are neither supported by stories from the field, nor informed by accounts of the experience of practitioners dealing with students in various multicultural landscapes, the study bridges this gap by investigating postgraduate international students’ and staff experiences on four different campuses of the university. Drawing on Appadurai’s notion of ‘Imagined Worlds’ (1990) and Bhabha’s ‘Third Space’ (1994), complemented by Edward and Usher’s ‘Pedagogy of (Dis)location’ (2000) and Wenger’s ‘Communities of Practice’ (1998), the study captures the complexities of studying and working in an international education setting. The methodology of the study was broadly constructionist and interpretive. A critical ethnography methodology was adapted to analyse and present qualitative primary data gathered from narratives through documents, questionnaires, focus groups and semi-structured interviews on my participants’ perceptions, experiences and attitudes in relation to the new diaspora in the international education setting. Thematic analysis was adopted to interpret the raw data. Accounts of students and staff experience and perceptions were jointly constructed by the participants and the researcher. Issues of reflexivity were addressed throughout the study to enhance the rigour of the research. Emerging themes were explored to understand how the intercultural experiences of students and staff in an international education setting, impact academic debate, policy development and practice within HE institutions more broadly. Three main themes were identified from participants’ comments, perceptions, and narratives: addressing the changing landscape of HE from 5 the top, dealing with internationalisation on the ground, and adapting pedagogy and curriculum. The findings suggest that enhancing international student experience can be a ready asset, triggering a reconsideration of contemporary realities and practices at the university, but first, the university needs to address the changing landscape of HE by developing stronger connections with the international students themselves. The thesis includes a number of recommendations and practical implications to consider a more sustainable approach to internationalisation.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Reading
  • Edwards, Viv, Supervisor, External person
Award date30 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016


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