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Title: Student mobility and competence development in higher education : a study of Latvian students at English universities
Author: Wells, Anna
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This research examines experiences of Latvian students pursuing undergraduate degrees at universities in England. Working with this population positions this research in the subject area of International Student Mobility (ISM). As a relatively new subject ISM is still developing suitable concepts, methodological practices and scientific terminology. This presents a challenge but also calls for more in-depth work in the area. As an exploratory study this research answers this call and proposes new directions in the development of ISM as a research field. ISM is particularly interesting in the context of contemporary Europe where student mobility is considered as a vehicle of human capital across national borders. As such student mobility contributes to further internationalization of the European labour force and facilitates development of the knowledge-based economy. Finding out what students gain from university education abroad remains a topic of scientific debate. This research focuses on the practical but complicated part of Higher Education: competence development. The review of the literature reveals that the topic of competence development in Higher Education has been in and out of researchers’ favour, but it has not been examined in the international context. This consideration is timely as more and more students seek education abroad and competences developed at foreign universities are transferred across borders. This research is based on in-depth interviews with Latvian students in England, their family members and friends both in Latvia and in England. Interviewing family and friends enriched the self-reporting accounts of the students, thus capturing a more holistic representation of the students’ experiences. In addition, accounts of the students’ network representatives from England and from Latvia positioned this research in the international social networks of the students. This research finds that international social networks are the natural and necessary environments in which mobility of students takes place and argues that it needs to be studied with consideration to these under-researched environments. This study also proposes a longitudinal focus. The main participants of this research, the students, were interviewed three times over three years, which goes beyond most research studies on student mobility. The analysis of the interview responses relies on multiple iterations between the literature and the data. The findings demonstrate that degree-seeking students develop competences that can be grouped in three main areas: gaining access to university education in England, socio-cultural acculturation and academic acculturation. In each of these areas students develop specific skills and abilities that support the three areas of competences. The development of the skills, abilities and competences is explained through a model created by Noel Burch for Gordon Training International (GTI). The model outlines four stages of development that progress from the level of unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence, to conscious competence and to unconscious competence.
Supervisor: Ertl, Hubert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Higher Education ; international student mobility ; competence development