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Being international: learning in a Canadian university

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Many Canadian post-secondary institutions have identified internationalization as a priority. However, internationalization in higher education in Canada is more closely connected to economic and political rationales of globalization than to students’ educational concerns. There is scant research exploring international student experiences. This study examines international student perspectives on their social and educational experiences in a Canadian university to gain insights into how educators might better address students’ purposes, and a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of internationalization of higher education. This qualitative study is grounded in an interdisciplinary theoretical framework informed by theories from globalization, postcolonial thought, cultural studies, sociocultural theory, race and identity. Following the theorizing of globalization as economic, political, technological and media ‘flows’ (“scapes”), I propose that internationalization of higher education be conceptualized as an “eduscape.” An eduscape, I argue, better reflects and expresses the complexity and multiple dimensions of internationalization than is theorized in the literature. Analyses of power and difference, resistance and transformation are also key in understanding both how students are enmeshed in these forces and how they navigate through them. The participants in the study are undergraduate and graduate international students enrolled in a mid-sized university in Western Canada. Their perspectives, taken in the context of theory, contribute to understanding of internationalization at the university, its curriculum and pedagogy, and of international education in general. The containment of diversity that came to light in this investigation counteracts the internationalization possibilities, raising questions about institutional goals and purposes. This study indicates that a reconceptualisation of internationalization towards a recognition of students’ experiences is essential in moving away from economic outcomes and realizing educational goals.
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