Understanding of gendered, classed, and racialized inequalities in higher education through exploration of Chinese international students’ experiences in the UK

Hu, Mei (2024) Understanding of gendered, classed, and racialized inequalities in higher education through exploration of Chinese international students’ experiences in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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International education is thought to offer opportunities to gain high level of foreign language (English) proficiency, independent and critical thinking skills that are highly valued in the current global economy. However, given the rising focus of international education on economic concerns under the discourse of neoliberalism, it is becoming doubtful that Western universities and the field of international education can fulfil the expectations of international students. Drawing on poststructural and critical theoretical perspectives, I aim to examine the complex and detailed operation of power at multiple levels to understand the process of exclusion, marginalisation, and inequality of international students in UK higher education. I adopt a qualitative longitudinal research design to track 25 Chinese international postgraduates in several universities and record their experiences in the UK across one year. First, through the exploration of Chinese international students’ emotional experiences in the UK, I argue that their emotions cannot seen as their personal possessions, rather being shaped by wider social, political, and structural discourses including the discourses (or metanarratives) of neoliberalism, individualism and postcolonialism, and also government policies enacted as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to illustrating how power relations and inequality operate in higher education, my thesis also reveals instances of subversion and resistance by Chinese international students against established power structures. Second, through the analysis of the interplay of social class, gender, and ethnicity on participants’ study in the UK, my thesis sheds light on how middle-class students’ academic and social advantages are reproduced through the early accumulation of various cultural capitals, and how family support on children’s study is differentiated according to gender. Furthermore, my thesis also draws attention to instances of working-class participants’ agency and reflexivity by actively engaging in various practices to ‘improve’ themselves. My thesis challenges the ‘deficit’ model of Chinese international students as passive learners and questions the discourse of the ‘homogeneity’ of international students by uncovering their multiple and contradictory social positions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: international mobility, neoliberalism, postcolonialism, emotions, social class, gender, youth transition.
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Read, Professor Barbara and Moskal, Professor Marta
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84429
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2024 15:11
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2024 15:11
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84429
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/84429

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