Sangeeta Rai Thesis .pdf (2.13 MB)

Nepali business students in one Australian university: an ethnographic case study

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posted on 2024-01-09, 05:54 authored by Sangeeta RaiSangeeta Rai
International students at Australian universities play a significant role in the growth and sustainability of Australia’s education industry. In 2019 there were 956,773 international students reported to be studying in Australia (Department of Education, Skills and Employment [DESE], 2020). Of these, 65,700 were Nepali students (Onselen, 2020; Ghimire, 2020; Koziol, 2019). At the time of this study, statistics show that Nepali students were coming to Australian universities in increasing numbers, but not much has been ascertained as to their successes and challenges once they arrive in the country. This thesis places a spotlight on how these factors affect individual experiences at Australian universities. An ethnographic case study has been undertaken to examine the academic and social experiences of a group of Nepali students studying in the business faculty at one Australian university. Thus, this research has been guided by its aim to understand the academic and social experiences of these students. Examination of contextual literature revealed a dearth of research on the influence of culture on the coping mechanisms of Nepali students in host countries such as Australia. Moreover, an understanding of the trends and policies of the Australian international education sector (within which the teaching and learning of this cohort is undertaken) was important. These trends in relation to the Nepali cohort alert the academics who teach them of their importance and the teaching strategies needed to fulfil their specific learning needs. Hence, this study provides a more in-depth understanding of the Nepali students’ specific needs and obstacles in achieving happiness and success in both academic and social areas of their lives during their time in Australia. Data was collected via in-depth interviews and field notes taking into consideration the two research questions: 1) What academic and social successes and challenges do Nepali students experience as learners at an Australian university? 2) How can these experiences be explained through the threshold concepts theory? This was followed by a thematic analysis of data which identified three major themes: 1) Lifestyle in Nepal: Transition to Australia. 2) Adapting to life in Australia. 3) Learning and teaching experiences in Australia. These topics were interpreted using the threshold concepts theory and helped to answer the two research questions as well as meet the overarching aim of this research study. The conceptual framework used to interpret findings in this study is the threshold concepts theory and inclusive of its eight features (Cousin, 2006, p. 8). In particular, the liminality feature of the threshold concept theory is best illustrated by its liminality tunnel metaphor in this study. However, the original metaphor of the liminality tunnel (identified as the analytical tool by which the thematic findings are being interpreted) needs conceptual modification to fully illustrate the findings from this study. The theoretical assumption in the literature that a student seeks a new understanding on one complex issue on a specific subject at a time progressively in the liminality tunnel of the threshold concept theory is not supported by the evidence in this study. The findings show that multiple issues simultaneously challenge Nepali students on their journey through the liminality tunnel as they partially and at times fully embrace their new student lifestyle in Australia. These multiple issues range from Nepali culture and values, new friendships and environment, loan repayments, to struggles with academic activities such as academic writing skills and online learning tools. Therefore, a multifaceted liminality experience in the Australian higher education sector tunnel has given birth to a multifaceted liminality tunnel notion.




Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

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