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Internationalisation: The opportunities and challenges associated with student outward mobility at undergraduate level in UK higher education

Hussain, S Yasmin (2019) Internationalisation: The opportunities and challenges associated with student outward mobility at undergraduate level in UK higher education. Doctoral thesis (EdD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, the UK government has indicated a need for the country to become even more global and internationalist in action and spirit. “Outward mobility can form a key part of this agenda, in enhancing the domestic skills base and making students more globally engaged. The benefits of mobility are many and varied: international experience helps develop critical skills such as intercultural awareness and foreign language competency, and can increase students’ employability, helping them to be competitive in the global jobs market. Beyond these private benefits, the international mobility of students can create positive externalities by internationalising campuses, and fostering global networks that can in turn facilitate research, knowledge transfers and university–business engagement. These external benefits also help enhance the UK’s soft power and support the UK’s trading and diplomatic relationships longer term” (UUKi, 2017a). There’s a significant body of research that demonstrates the benefits of student mobility and the positive impact outward mobility can have on students and their personal development and growth However, despite the many positive benefits of an international mobility experience, the UUKi (2018:8) report identified only 7.2% of the 2015-16 graduating cohort were mobile during their degree programme. At Manchester Metropolitan University, only 1% of students undertake a mobility experience, which is lower than the national sector average of 7.2% of the student population. Students from the lowest HE participation neighbourhoods (LPNs) are underrepresented in the internationally mobile population each year, while students from the highest HE participation neighbourhoods have been overrepresented by a greater percentage. The university has an ambition to increase student outward mobility from 1% to 5% by 2021. My interest in this area is as a practitioner researcher. In order to work on the ‘Routes into Languages’ thematic strand of promoting ‘student outward mobility’ for undergraduates in my faculty, I wanted to undertake a small scale research project to explore some of the factors influencing students’ choices/decisions regarding outbound mobility. In addition to the reports and policy documents, I wanted to hear the rich narratives and experiences of students who opted/did not opt for a study/work abroad opportunity during their undergraduate study, with the view to increase student outward mobility. Building on a theoretical framework focusing on the globalisation/education/mobility relationship and based on semi-structured interviews with undergraduate students and policy document analysis, the thesis identifies some of the similarities and disconnects between the two with the view to assist formulating tailored remedial interventions to boost undergraduate students’ outward mobility in MMU’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

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