International students


This project contributes to critiques of consumerism in higher education showing how, through various institutional practices, international students are socially situated as consumers of degrees to the detriment of a more holistic student experience.

The number and proportion of international students in UK HE increased from 28,000 in 1962-63 (DfES, 2003) to over 300,000 in 2003/04 (UKCOSA, 2005). This increase is closely related to changes in UK HE policy, from publicly funded international student places in the 1960s to the recruitment of fee-paying international students as an explicit policy objective (DfES, 1999).

Indepth interviews with 19 foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate Chinese students at the start and end of their first year challenged the educational rhetoric of exchange, enlightenment and diversity in policy and university documents and revealed some of the processes by which international students become narrowly defined as subject learners, instead of the cultural and language learners that they hoped to be.


Journal Article
Spurling, N.J., (2007) Exploring Adjustment: The Social Situation of Chinese Students in UK HE, Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences, v.3, n.1

Caruana, V. and Spurling, N.J. (2007) Internationalisation of the curriculum and the support of international students: a review of the literature, Higher Education Academy

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