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    Drifting identity in the global era? Polish students in Irish Higher Education


    Sobiesiak, Kamila Magdalena (2012) Drifting identity in the global era? Polish students in Irish Higher Education. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    Motivation My research project began with a desire to examine in detail the educational aspects of globalization and European integration in the context of young Poles in Higher Education in Ireland and their sense of life stability and localization in the contemporary world. Research Focus The study explores the motivations, experiences and perspectives of young Poles entering higher education in Ireland. They undertake journeys which are not just actions pointed toward entering the HE and getting the diploma, they are embedded in a complex, rich world of meanings and experiences of individuals and their lives, which create a unique context for each student’s learning identity. The leading theme is transition process perceived from different angles: the transition from one university to another, from one country to another, the re-negotiation of the self and learning identity. These journeys take place in the context of liquid modernity, as described by Bauman: the transition from communism to democracy, neoliberalism and globalisation, the transition from welfare state, with its security, to freedom and a deep sense of insecurity, unpredictability and the fear of freedom in this sense. The transformations in higher education in both countries Poland and Ireland, are the reflection of deeper transformations across Europe. Research Methods This dissertation met this research aims through an extensive study of relevant literature and the implementation of practical research. The latter was carried out through narrative inquiry interviews. Findings This research produces a number of key findings which indicate how student’s identity and perception of the world changes due to those transitions. The study engages the concepts of habitus and Bourdieu’s work on social and cultural capital to explore how Polish students learn to cope with the intellectual and symbolic capitals of the university. The concept of recognition, coined by Honneth, helps to understand social behaviours, human need and sources of transformation explored in the field of education. In relying on this set of ideas the case is made for linking globalisation and neoliberalism with the role of higher education in a rapidly changing order of the modern world. The increase of self-esteem and self-worth, experienced by these students, is correlated with the increase of their employability due to acquiring a higher education diploma. They renegotiate their identities during the whole process of inter-cultural and inter-university transitions as well as the whole range of experiences of being student, immigrant and worker abroad. One of the key findings was the change of their self-perception in the sense of Polish national identity. There was also the finding which may be applied to the whole generation of young professionals, and it is that their life becomes more and more episodic and their identity fragmented. This study attempts to critique the neoliberal agenda, which forces individuals to become marketable products. The experiences of these young Polish students is only one voice in a broader discussion about the pervading feeling of insecurity in globalised world, which becomes fluid and unpredictable. Recommendation. As higher education institutions begin to engage with a greater range of students, it is increasingly important that they take account of the learning biographies, narratives and attitudes of non-traditional (including migrant) students. There is a valid knowledge for universities in the voices of these learners, to embrace their perspectives, their learning experiences, motivations and needs. The universities need to listen to those voices in order to adjust (culturally and structurally) to a more diverse population of students. What drives students in higher education, what they want from universities, are important questions in the development of a more responsive and culturally diverse system of higher education. Policy makers and those responsible for higher education need to know the implications of people’s experiences for the development of a more supportive learning culture.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Drifting identity; global era; Polish students; Irish Higher Education;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Education
    Item ID: 4215
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 15:00
    URI:

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