An exploration of how Chinese postgraduate students reconcile their UKHE learning experiences through a cycle of action and self-reflection

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis explores the lived experiences of postgraduate Chinese international students studying in the UK. Although the number of Chinese international students in the UK is continually growing and they are the dominant group in certain UK classrooms, the voices of Chinese international students are often only heard through large group surveys or course and module evaluation documents. This Naturalistic Inquiry explores the lived experiences of a group of Chinese international postgraduate students studying at a Russell Group university in the UK. Due to the emergent and longitudinal nature of the design of this project, discussions were held with participants throughout the duration of their course to collect their thoughts and record their voices about their experiences while in the UK and once they had returned to China. Findings suggest that their postgraduate study acted as a form of emancipation as they were able to develop independence and skills. It also provided a space for individuals to consider their future goals and ambitions. While in the UK, the students went through processes of unlearning and re-learning, due to the cultural differences between China and the UK. They experienced numerous changes, which created difficulties when making transitions into the new learning and living environment. A model to assist with the understanding of the complexities associated to these changes and transitions is presented. It is hoped that the model, the findings and the recommendations presented in this thesis can assist universities and their staff to understand the complexities of the students’ experiences which in turn will influence and support provisions for Chinese international students.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMelvyn West (Supervisor)


  • Learning
  • Student experience
  • Chinese International students
  • Higher Education
  • Student Voice

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