Out of the ivory tower: the impact of wider social contact on the values, religious beliefs and identities of Chinese postgraduate students in the UK
Li, D. (2012) Out of the ivory tower: the impact of wider social contact on the values, religious beliefs and identities of Chinese postgraduate students in the UK. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 12 (2). pp. 241-258. ISSN 1470-109X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2011.585339
This article explores the impact of wider social contact on the experience of Chinese postgraduate students of adaptation to life in the UK. Focus group and individual interviews were conducted with a group of 11 Chinese students on an MA programme at a university in southern England and individual interviews with three representatives of a local volunteer group (LVG) offering support to the Chinese students. Although it was perceived that the students’ support needs were not adequately met by the University, the additional support offered outside the University was unanimously valued and considered as enriching their cultural and linguistic experiences and meeting their expectations. However, frequent social contact with the LVG, whose members were mostly Christians, also had an impact on their values, religious beliefs and identities. In a discussion framed within the sociological perspective of proselytization or religious conversion and the broad framework of international education and globalization, the different responses to this contact are described in terms of believers, doubters, empathisers and commentators. Implications are considered for universities, people involved in providing social support for international students, and sponsors of international students.
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