Being an international academic: A phenomenological study of academic migrants adjusting to working and living in Scotland

Academic Mobility

ISBN: 978-1-78350-853-2, eISBN: 978-1-78350-854-9

ISSN: 1479-3628

Publication date: 10 July 2014


In response to a dearth of research on the experience of non-UK nationals in UK universities, this chapter reports on a qualitative study involving 40 international academics, including lecturers, senior lecturers and professors, who, within the past five years, had moved to the United Kingdom, specifically Scotland, to join a research-intensive university there, offering a rich account of what it means to be an international academic and live in Scotland. The aim of the project was to identify the challenges and opportunities these international academics perceived, as well as the contributions they saw themselves as making to the host institution and society, and to derive from these findings some recommendations to inform internationalisation policies and practices. The authors observe that international staff encounter a variety of challenges and conclude that the economic benefits expected to accrue from recruiting greater numbers of international academics are unlikely to materialize if star researchers become unhappy with the situation they enter into and consider leaving. Moreover, if internationalisation is to include at least an element of interculturality, then it is essential to capitalise more heavily on international academics’ prior cultural and work-related knowledge and intentionally promote intercultural exchanges of practices, values and ideals.


Kreber, C. and Hounsell, J. (2014), "Being an international academic: A phenomenological study of academic migrants adjusting to working and living in Scotland", Academic Mobility (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 9-33.

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