Being an academic : Perceptions of expatriate academics

Dileesh, Sapna and Ashwin, Paul (2022) Being an academic : Perceptions of expatriate academics. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The focus of this thesis is to explore how expatriate academics perceive the meaning of being an academic in higher education. In this study, I sought to contribute to the extant literature on expatriate academics and the construction of their academic identities, which has been under-researched, particularly in relation to how multiple contributing factors such as the motivations to expatriate and the experiences of academics influence the development of the identities of expatriate academics. An interpretive approach to research guided the design of the study. In order to answer the research questions, a qualitative study was undertaken, and the data was generated using semi-structured interviews with 18 expatriate academics at a higher education institution in Oman. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The findings of this study show that the expatriate academics reflected four core identities of the meaning of being an academic: traditional teacher, integrated academic, academic freelancer and academic leader. The findings draw attention to the complex nature of academic identities and that the academics expressed a wider range of academic identities such as academic freelancer (practitioner/vocational) and academic leader (leadership) in addition to being a teacher or a researcher. This thesis contributes to original knowledge by relating the influences of motivations to expatriate and the experiences of expatriation on the development of the core academic identities of expatriate academics. This thesis argues that the expatriate academics’ perception of being an academic has been evolving over time and the academics were seen as building on and extending their core academic identity influenced by their past experiences, considering their present and likely future experiences. The findings revealed that the expatriate academics were able to construct positive and agentive narratives of academic identity development within the higher education environment in Oman taking into account the diversity of the academic profession and context. The findings have implications for policy makers and managements of HEIs as a better understanding of how the expatriate academics perceive the meaning of being an academic, will enable them to reimagine the HE environment in their institutions and countries so that the expatriate academics are offered opportunities and space to develop their academic identities and future identity trajectories. This will enable the academics to develop and thrive in the academic profession. The findings also have implications for academics globally that have expatriated or are considering expatriation to understand what to expect when deciding to expatriate and the related experiences.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? expatriate academicacademic identitymotivationexperiences ??
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13 May 2022 12:20
Last Modified:
06 Feb 2024 00:22