Mobility, education and employment amongst South Asian international students in the UK

Nayak, Dwarka (2017) Mobility, education and employment amongst South Asian international students in the UK. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

Accepted Version
Available under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview


This study investigates the experiences of South Asian international students at the nexus of mobility, education, and employment in the UK. The study adopts Bourdieu’s theoretical lens to explore how individual students understand, seek, and achieve advantages through participation in education, the labour market, and wider society. Despite the significant numbers of South Asian international students in the UK, we know little about their specific experiences. This study used a qualitative led, mixed method approach in addressing this gap and researched the experiences of students from South Asia enrolled at nine post-1992 universities in London. After an initial, exploratory online survey of 148 students, 51 in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with students on campus. The survey and interviews highlight the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of South Asian students and their varied trajectories. The analysis uses a four-part typology to make sense of this diversity: Highflyers, Realists, Credentialists, and Strugglers possess, develop, and mobilise varied combinations of economic, social, and cultural capital. The research highlights how student mobility is a family project dependent on the resources and emotional investment of relatives. Much of the literature emphasises the challenges faced by international students, but despite the reality of these difficulties and their varied prospects, most participants in this study are broadly satisfied with their decision to come to the UK and confident that it will provide them with a competitive edge in their future career. Students’ optimism is rooted in their experiences beyond the classroom. In particular, many are inspired by the adventure of moving abroad and the opportunities for personal development and the freedom it affords. The resulting narratives of self are seen as important, valuable assets when students return home and embark on careers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: International students, Social reproduction, Mobility, Student migration
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 14:52
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:58

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item