Research Output
Journey into higher education: a study of postgraduate Indian students' experiences, as they make the educational journey, to a new teaching and learning environment in the UK
  In recent years the number of postgraduate students from India studying in the United Kingdom (UK) has significantly increased, bringing substantial economic benefits to the higher education sector and the wider economy. In particular, Indian students studying on postgraduate programmes in the UK form the largest group of postgraduate students (58%), which is forecast to grow annually, by 3.1%, until 2024 (British Council, 2014; HESA, 2018). However, increasing international competition along with evolving government restrictions on student immigration and the decision to leave the European Union (EU), has put the sector in a very vulnerable position. Currently, there are various groups of international students who have come from different academic backgrounds and encountered various challenges moving to an unfamiliar Teaching and Learning Environment (TLE). Hence it is crucial that Higher Education Institutions (HEI) understand from a student perspective, the issues and challenges that students experience, so that they can design and implement appropriate support strategies which facilitate the needs of different cohorts of students.

The search for specific studies carried out on Indian postgraduate students’ educational experience into HEI in the UK has generated few results. Indeed much of the research that currently exists about international students’ educational experience has centred on specific aspects of transition such as: widening participation, social and academic integration, retention, and the social and academic institutional systems that support students and transition as a process and permanent state (Harvey, Drew and Smith, 2006; Johnson, 2010; O’Donnell, Kean and Steven, 2016; Roberts, 2003; Trotter and Roberts, 2006; Yorke and Longden, 2008). However, this study makes an attempt to move the discussion forward by viewing transition as an educational process rather than as an outcome.

By viewing transition as an educational journey, it allows the researcher to capture student’s experiences as they make their “journey” from one TLE to another. This Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) study focuses on capturing the educational experiences of a group of Indian students who have chosen to study on various postgraduate degree programmes within a Business School at a Scottish university. The study follows the students’ educational journey, as they move from their previous TLE to a new TLE in the UK. Using a purely qualitative approach to gather data, the research captures students’ experiences as they journey into a new TLE in the UK, thus allowing the researcher to obtain a deep understanding of the issues and challenges through the voices of students.

Research data were gathered using two sets of unstructured interviews, which were conducted at two critical points in the students’ journey. There were six students interviewed at two different stages and each interview lasted between one to one and half hours. Subsequently, the data was analysed using thematic analysis which identified six specific themes that are presented and discussed. The findings suggest the issues and challenges that Indian postgraduate students experience when they made the educational journey from their home TLE to a new TLE in the UK. The findings also reveal that the support strategies implemented by the host institution were not effective in helping students to successfully adapt to their new TLE. The study makes a contribution to knowledge in three ways. Firstly, it moves the discussion forward by allowing the study of transition from a different perspective such as an educational journey that captures students’ experiences. Secondly the study contributes to knowledge by extending the stages of transition to include students previous TLE. Thirdly, it provides a detailed information about the differences in the TLE between India and the UK.

The findings from the study are presented and include: three pre-arrival findings and three post arrival findings. The pre-arrival findings included students’ motivations for studying in the UK, the characteristics of participants’ previous teaching and learning environments (TLE) and their expectations and level of preparedness for studying in the UK. The second set of findings present the issues and challenges that students encountered in the new TLE and the level of engagement they had with support systems at the host institution. Finally, the study presents four recommendations which include, a new induction and student support programme, implementation of student support strategies prior to studying in the UK, enhance staff awareness of Indian students’ educational background and the introduction of a pre-arrival website. These recommendations are based on the needs of Indian students, with some ideas being unique because they were suggested by the students themselves. These can be used to inform the host HEI, the lecturers who teach these students, as well as the wider academic community.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 July 2020

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Gordon, P. A. Journey into higher education: a study of postgraduate Indian students' experiences, as they make the educational journey, to a new teaching and learning environment in the UK. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



postgraduate students; international student experience; Indian students; educational journey; Scottish higher education

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