Building lasting professional relationships in Australia: Learning from the expectations and experiences of HRD students from abroad

Year: 2016

Author: McCormick, Alexandra, Thomas, Matthew A.M., Phillips, Ruth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Higher education institutions around the world are increasing their recruitment of international students as a means to ‘internationalise’ and increase external income in an era of neoliberal reforms. A substantial body of research examines this process and the ways in which institutions could improve their content and program delivery for international students, especially at the undergraduate level (Roberts & Dunworth, 2012; Tran & Pham, 2015). While the literature on providing supports for higher research degree (HRD) international students continues to proliferate (Mantai, 2015; Pearson, Cumming, Evans, Macauley, & Ryland, 2011; Wang & Li, 2011), scant research explores the ways in which HRD international students aim to leverage their academic experiences, professional connections, and newly acquired social capital beyond their time at university. This paper employs critical globalisation and post-colonial theoretical frameworks to analyse the expectations and lived experiences of HRD students at the University of Sydney. It further explores how HRD students envisage their future collaborations, contributions, and involvement in research and teaching upon completion of their degrees. The paper draws on survey and focus group data from current and former HRD students at the University of Sydney. The findings suggest that HRD international students benefit from a range of connections and procedures to help them become researchers and maximise their HRD experience when returning to their home contexts. The paper concludes with a call for additional reconsiderations of international higher education and contributes to the nascent body of research on HRD international students in Australia. References:Mantai, L. (2015). Feeling like a researcher: experiences of early doctoral students in Australia, Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2015.1067603 Pearson, M., Cumming, J., Evans, T., Macauley, P., & Ryland, K. (2011). How shall we know them? Capturing the diversity of difference in Australian doctoral candidates and their experiences. Studies in Higher Education, 36(5), 527-542. Roberts, P., & Dunworth, K. (2012). Staff and student perceptions of support services for international students in higher education: A case study. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 34(5), 517–528. Wang, T., & Li, L. Y. (2011). ‘Tell me what to do’vs.‘guide me through it’: Feedback experiences of international doctoral students. Active Learning in Higher Education, 12(2), 101-112.Tran, L., & Pham, L. (2015): International students in transnational mobility: Intercultural connectedness with domestic and international peers, institutions and the wider community. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2015.1057479