Towards maximising international PhD students’ experience in the UK

Towards maximising international PhD students’ experience in the UK

The delayed progression and increased attrition among doctoral students is of global concern (Church, 2009; Gardner, 2007; Sakurai et al 2012). In 2014, Dr Dely Elliot (with Dr Kate Reid, Professor Vivienne Baumfield, Dr Kara Makara) undertook ASRF-funded research on the academic acculturation of international doctoral students in the UK. This led to six presentations at prestigious conferences (e.g. EARLI, AERA, EERA – receiving a prize for the best poster award: http://www.eera-ecer.de/ecer-2015-budapest/programme-central-events/best-poster-awards-2015/) and publications in high-impact journals, including:

Beyond the amusement, puzzlement and challenges: an enquiry into international students’ academic acculturation. Studies in Higher Education, 41(12), 2198-2217. (doi:10.1080/03075079.2015.1029903)

Hidden treasure: successful international doctoral students who found and harnessed the hidden curriculum. Oxford Review of Education, 42(6), 733-748. (doi:10.1080/03054985.2016.1229664)

Searching for 'a third space’: a creative pathway towards international PhD students’ academic acculturation. Higher Education Research and Development, 35(6), 1180-1195. (doi:10.1080/07294360.2016.1144575)

Capturing visual metaphors and tales: innovative or elusive? International Journal of Research and Method in Education, (doi:10.1080/1743727X.2016.1181164) (Early Online Publication).

Likewise, Dr Muir Houston was involved in the Social and Organisational Mediation of University Learning (SOMUL) project, funded by the ESRC’s Teaching and Learning Programme. Utilising a large scale quasi-longitudinal study, they investigated the role that social and organisational mediation plays in what students learn at university as UK higher education institutions (HEIs) become increasingly diverse; this resulted in the publication of a number of outputs including a highly commended book.

Our team builds on rich knowledge and expertise in student engagement and how structural issues, disciplinary differences, institutional cultures, and social and organisational mediation, inform the student experience. Equally, we acknowledge the necessity to gain a comprehensive understanding of the priorities and concerns of key users and research beneficiaries as we take our research forward with a view to addressing more effectively the academic acculturation needs of international PhD students and maximising their experience in the UK.

PI and Co-Pis - International Collaborators

Principal Investigator: Dr Dely Elliot

Co-Investigators: Dr Muir Houston, Dr Kara Makara, Dr Kate Reid

The Principal Investigator and all Co-Investigators are from the School of Education, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.


Start and End Date

Start Date of Project: 1st December 2016

End Date of Project: 31st October 2017


Funder and Funding Amount

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account


Related Publications

Elliot, D. L., Houston, M., Makara, K., and Reid, K. (2017). ESRC IAA Workshop: Towards Maximising International PhD Students’ Experience (Extended Summary Report).


Project News

• Following the highly successful ESRC IAA workshop event Towards maximising international PhD students’ experience on 29th March 2017, the Extended Summary, which provides an overview of the workshop and themes raised during the event, is now available.

• With support from the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE), a key partner stakeholder for this project, a blog entry about this workshop is now available on the UKCGE website: Dynamic complementary voices in support of international PhD students.

• A follow-up event for international PhD students is currently under discussion with Dr Kay Guccione.

• UKCGE is in discussion with our team with respect to co-organising another event with the aim of improving the experiences of international postgraduate students in the UK.

• UKCISA circulated the Extended Summary to their members through their e-news.

• CR&DALL circulated the Extended Summary to their members through their e-news.


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