Emily F. Henderson
University of Warwick, UK
The mobility of academics has tended to be romanticized as a universal good in policy discourses, as well as certain areas of academic literature. Mobility is seen as contributing to economic growth, and constitutes a key dimension in the global internationalization agenda. For early career academics, including doctoral researchers, mobility is constructed as catalyst for career progression, a means of creating leading researchers for the future. Academic mobility can include short-term and temporary mobility, longer term mobility for qualification or employment purposes, and long-term mobility trajectories that encompass multiple destinations. For some, different types of mobility overlap, such as an international student participating in a study abroad scheme. Academic mobility constitutes an important area of interest for comparative and international education researchers, as mobile subjects destabilise and yet inhabit national borders;each of the studies included in this panel symposium addresses a range of international contexts. Investment in mobility occurs at individual, institutional and national levels, as academics, higher education institutions and governments alike tap respond to what is becoming known as the ‘mobility imperative’. However academic mobility as an imperative is also ripe for critique, in relation to issues of fairness, equality of access, and inclusion. Relatively little attention has thus far been paid to the lived experiences of mobile academics, and the impact of mobility on their professional and personal lives. This panel symposium, which is organized by the University of Warwick’s AMIN – Academic Mobilities and Immobilities Network, presents a set of papers on different aspects of academic mobility, but which share two core features. Firstly, each of the papers focuses on the lived experiences of mobile academics. Secondly, the papers share a critical approach to academic mobilities research, where mobility is questioned as a universal good, and equity issues surrounding the mobility imperative are called into question.
A PhD in motion: a critical academic mobilities approach to researching short-term mobility schemes for doctoral students
Presenter name: Emily F. Henderson
Affiliation and city: University of Warwick, Coventry
This paper explores two doctoral mobility schemes funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as opportunities available to ESRC-funded PhD students: Overseas Institutional Visits and the PhD Partnering Scheme. The paper explores these schemes as forms of short-term academic mobility. Short-term mobility (days or weeks rather than months or years) has been neglected in the academic mobilities literature, which tends to focus on longer stays. The paper outlines a critical academic mobilities approach, which calls into question the construction of mobility as a universal good, constructs mobile subjects as both fluid, dynamic and shifting, and structurally determined, and which includes mobility processes as well as outcomes in the research approach. The two mobility schemes, which involved institutional visits to Paris, France and Bloemfontein, South Africa, are then explored as case studies for this approach to mobilities research.
Problematising (im)mobilities: lived experiences of PhD graduates and structural considerations
Presenter name: Charikleia Tzanakou
Affiliation and city: University of Warwick, Coventry
Higher education and research is considered key to economic growth, innovation and international competitiveness. The growing population of PhD graduates (Auriol et al., 2013) has led to an increasing global flow of highly skilled individuals. Based on a mixed methods study of early career paths of Greek scientists and engineers, it is demonstrated that academic mobility might not be as advantageous as expected disrupting the discourse which romanticises mobility as a positive force (Robertson, 2010). This paper contributes to relatively underexplored topic on investigating (im)mobility experiences of PhD graduates in Greek and UK universities. Through the lived experiences, structural issues become apparent (European funding and academic inbreeding) and their relationship with academic (im)mobilities) is problematized.
Ticking the ‘Other’ Box: Positional identities of East Asian academics in UK universities, internationalisation and diversification
Presenter name: Terri Kim
Affiliation and city: University of East London, London
This paper critically interrogates East Asian academics’ positional identities in UK universities, internationalisation and diversification against the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework. Contemporary UK policy promoting racial equality and diversity is often over-generalised, while the critical race theory-based literature has focused on hegemonic notions of ‘white privilege’. This discourse does not provide an adequate, comparative perspective of power relations among whites and ethnic minorities. Against the background, the paper compares and contrasts the experiences of two groups of East Asian academics working in UK universities. The first group is foreign-born but has strong British identities following their English elite education since childhood. The other group came to the UK for postgraduate studies and /or have chosen to work in Britain. The paper changes the picture of a static, white-dominated perspective of BME-CRT by offering a dynamic, fluid discourse involving East Asian academics’ positional identities and their broader comparative implications beyond the UK.
The working lives of foreign-born scholars in British academia: a note on inclusion
Presenter name: Toma Pustelnikovaite
Affiliation and city: Abertay University, Dundee
Globalisation and the expanding higher education sector in the UK have contributed to the growth in the number of foreign-born academics working in British academia, and led to an increased interest in academic migration. The present paper contributes to this body of scholarship by offering a contextual approach to international careers whilst the existing theorising of migrant scholars tends to view careers as a property of individuals. The proposed perspective invites to look beyond academics’ job transitions, and instead asks to consider the degree of migrant scholars’ inclusion in the profession abroad. Findings from sixty-two semi-structured interviews with foreign academics in British academia investigate their working lives as well as the dynamics of intra- and inter-professional relationships, showing the conditions of migrant scholars’ acceptance abroad.