”I’d Like to Call You My Mother.”: Reflections on Supervising International PhD students in Social Work

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Abstract

There are more international students in UK universities than at any time in the past, and this trend seems likely to continue, at least in the foreseeable future. This paper is motivated by my experiences as a white, middle-class, middle-aged woman supervising a number of international PhD students at a UK university. The title of the paper reflects a statement made by one international student, recently arrived to undertake a PhD in social work. His request resonated with views expressed to me by other international students and encouraged me to reconsider the nature of PhD supervision and my role within it. The paper argues that institutional guidelines, while helpful, do not address adequately the importance of the need to both support and affirm international postgraduate students who have made considerable sacrifices, personal, professional and financial, to come to study at a university overseas. The paper proposes that PhD supervisors should look to alternative frameworks for understanding so that we can create supervision practice which is respectful and useful to all doctoral students in social work, whether studying as overseas or home students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-464
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Work Education
Volume31
Issue number4
Early online date1 Apr 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Higher education
  • PhD
  • Supervision
  • International
  • Multi-cultural Perspectives
  • Students
  • Academic
  • Diversity
  • Social Work

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