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Title: Researching experience in global higher education : a study of international business students in the UK
Author: Vlachou, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 7570
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the experiences of international business studies students in the UK. Their experiences offer vital insights into important, contemporary socio-political processes, which crisscross international student mobility and the changing nature of global higher education. Such political transformations are driven and shaped by both neoliberal post-Fordist social organization, as well as an intensification of control over mobility. More specifically, this thesis suggests that the production and the policing of international students’ experiences in the UK are shaped by the creation of diversified points of control, such as UK Visas and Immigration, international student recruitment agencies, the UK police, universities’ international offices. Inspired by and drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1987), Jacques Rancière (1999) and Frigga Haug (1987) this thesis seeks to surface and analyse minor processes of experiencing which evade the regulatory practices of these institutions. I have experimented with two different methodologies – interviews with international business studies students and a memory work collective with international students undertaking PhD research in business studies. The ten in-depth interviews which I conducted with students from diverse ethnic backgrounds gave me multiple insights into the complexity of the international student experience. However, the methodology of memory work has a more prominent role in this thesis, as it provided the possibility to collectively explore and re-work the collective’s experiences. In doing that it uncovered moments of oppression as well as of resistance which usually remain hidden in clichéd accounts of experience. The main themes that emerged from the responses of my participants were: a) the intensification of border controls: student visa restrictions, the threat of deportation and their anxieties around answering the meticulous questions posed by migration agents; and b) the discourse of employability: lifelong learning, the need for self-regulation and self-valorisation, as well as the problematic links between business studies and business in the ‘real world’ under the current precarious times. At the same time, the numerous tactics these students deploy in order to manoeuvre around and beyond these enclosures emerged during the very process of research as well as during the analysis of the empirical data. Some of these tactics are as follows: non-participation in prescribed tuition (seminars especially); creating informal support networks; avoiding responding to or ‘manipulating’ migration agents; using business studies in unpredictable ways. Through my research I seek to participate in the development of new readings of the international student experience, in order to start envisioning our experiences more broadly as active participators in the socio-political conditions which shape our everyday lives. Such new readings of the international student experience can enact new points of entry in both migration as well as labour studies.
Supervisor: Papadopoulos, Dimitris ; Brewis, Jo Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available