AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
personal learning ecologies
C812 Educational Psychology
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractIt was estimated that in 2014, almost a third of all academics working in Higher Education in UK were non-UK nationals (HEFCE, 2016). Many more are non-UK born. The presence of these academics in the UK offers both opportunities and challenges to them, their colleagues, their students and the higher education institutions they work for (Hosein, Shu-Hua Yeh, Rao N., & Kinchin, in preparation). We are two of those academics who left their countries of birth and have worked at the same university in the UK for some time. This article is based on conversations we have had over several years and, more specifically, a recent one that started when one the authors (MJ) shared an article with the other (AG) entitled ‘Pathways through life: Development at the junctions, inflections, disruptions and transitions of life' (Jankowska, 2016). The manuscript, which was initially part of MJ's ‘personal learning ecology’ (Jackson, 2016), served as the ‘learning object’ around which we could converse. It afforded further joint co-construction of knowledge and a new shared understanding of what it is like to be an immigrant academic. Through our conversations we have come to recognise some striking similarities, as well as some differences, in our experiences prior to and during our working lives in the UK. The broad and complex range of experiences we have had in the in this country relate to the concept of 'cosmopolitanism', understood as 'a perspective, a state of mind, or to take a more processual view- a mode of managing meaning', which 'entails first of all an orientation, a willingness to engage with the Other’ (Hannerz, 1990, pp. 238-239). Although we work in higher education, a sector that accepts many kinds of Others (staff and students) and prides itself on being diverse and gaining from diversity, as individuals, we have always had to work to understand this way of doing things (the British way) and of being academics, while at the same time, being aware of that other way of being academic that is rooted in our backgrounds and our surviving links. We want to draw on the notions of 'articulation' and 'dislocation' to try to elucidate our experiences and relationships with people, institutions and knowledge. We use these notions to examine the extraordinary opportunities to see the world from multiple perspectives and grow personally and professionally open to immigrant academics, but also want to highlight the psychological cost for such individuals.
CitationGaitan A, Jankowska M (2016) 'Being an immigrant academic', Lifewide Magazine, (17), pp.24-26.
PublisherLifewide Education Community
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