UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Becoming and being : international graduate student experience and identity formation in the context of multiculturalism and internationalization Brin, Elizabeth Jane


International graduate students are perceived as enhancing the prestige of institutions of higher education but are often silenced through structural mechanisms that render their particular needs, perspectives and contributions irrelevant. My research critically examines the dominant institutional discourses by which this group of students negotiate their lived experiences. It specifically looks at how such discourses shape the students’ own perspectives of their sense of belonging and their identities. Though literature on international graduate student experience has grown dramatically in recent years, qualitative research on the lived experiences of these students remains limited. Furthermore, the majority of both quantitative and qualitative literature focuses on the student’s problems “adapting” and “succeeding” in their new culture. Based on interviews with ten self-identified international students, as well as on my own experience, I argue that there is an institutionalized silencing of notions of difference that often cultivates a concerning lack of belonging. My hope is that this research will provide a new way of looking at international graduate student experiences, emphasizing their strength and agency as opposed to the normative and limited deficit-approach that is currently dominant.

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