Faculty readiness for international research students: voices from the edge

Elizabeth Reid, Judith Homewood, Theresa Winchester-Seeto, Anna Reid

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    Universities are including an ever-increasing number of higher-degree by research (HDR) candidates who come from a range of national, ethnic and educational backgrounds. Yet, sometimes the expansion has not allowed for the types of support that is needed by these candidates, particularly those from international backgrounds. In this paper, we will explore ways that faculties could support international HDR candidates throughout their candidature. We use evidence drawn from interviews with candidates and supervisors to draw a picture of their cross-cultural experiences. From interviews with over 30 candidates and 20 supervisors, we have observed recurring themes and examined these themes against literature in the area. We used this material to develop a checklist for departments preparing to accept new international HDR candidates. The suggestions we present are relevant to the progressive stages of candidature, ranging from the department's initial preparation and training prior to candidature, right through to the assistance the department might provide in the early stages of the newly-graduated researcher's career. Comments about a faculty's preparation prior to accepting international candidates focused predominantly on supervisor training, specifically related to cross-cultural communication, and the motives behind supervisor and candidate selection. At the outset of candidature, the primary concerns voiced were for a clear and welcoming induction, provision of a focused workspace which was integrated into a department, funding and housing assistance. Candidates frequently suggested that, as they all came from different cultural and educational backgrounds, it was important to have courses available early in the candidature that introduced them to writing academic English, developed research skills, and encouraged participation in seminars. A wide range of issues was identified as relevant throughout candidature, including receiving networking opportunities at a number of levels (within the department, interdisciplinary and internationally), language assistance (either in classes or individually), communication and communication technologies. The attitude of the department toward candidates as early researchers and its responsibilities to assist in the candidate's research career during and immediately after their candidature was also mentioned.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalAARE 2009 Conference Proceedings
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventAustralian Association for Research in Education Conference - Canberra
    Duration: 29 Nov 20093 Dec 2009


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