Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 CGHE conference did not go ahead as planned on 1 April at Senate House, University of London. Instead we are bringing to a larger worldwide audience the pick of this year’s conference discussion as a webinar series. The fourth webinar in the conference paper series focuses on graduates and the concept of graduateness. CGHE’s Deputy Director Paul Ashwin will provide a new understanding of ‘graduateness’ in reference to Chemistry and Chemical Engineering students and their changing engagement with knowledge. Ka Ho Mok and Jin Jiang will then discuss the job acquisition prospects of Chinese PhD students after returning from international studies.
Rethinking Graduateness? How students’ relations to knowledge change over the course of their Chemistry and Chemical Engineering degrees
Paul Ashwin, CGHE Deputy Director (presenting), Margaret Blackie, University of Stellenbosch and Nicole Pitterson, Virginia Tech
In times characterised by economic difficulties, dynamic social relationships and future uncertainty, there is a fresh interrogation of the purposes of an undergraduate education. Another contemporary focus in higher education is on the economic rationale of universities and on the special role of STEM disciplines, which are seen as lucrative for graduates’ career success as well as for the development of national economies. What is less emphasised and less understood is the transformational impact of these disciplines in terms of the ways in which they transform students’ sense of identity as they engage with disciplinary knowledge. This is a key element of ‘graduateness’ that is characteristic of higher education. In this paper, we will examine how students studying Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in South Africa, the UK, and USA are changed by their engagement with knowledge over the course of their undergraduate degrees. This will provide new understandings of graduateness in these areas and the paper will explore the implications for policy and practice of these new understandings.
Academic productivity matters: International learning and job acquisition of Chinese PhD returnees
Ka Ho Mok and Jin Jiang
In recent years, the UK and other Western countries have witnessed an influx of international students from East Asian countries, particularly China. Less is known of how these international learning experience affects the returning students’ job acquisition prospects. This study critically examines how overseas doctoral study contributes to the employment of PhD returnees in the academic job market. Drawing on a national survey on government-funded Chinese PhD returnees, this study finds no significant “pure prestige” effect of returnees’ doctoral university, independent of individual merits. Instead, pre-employment academic productivity plays an important role in determining PhD returnees’ job placement in a top university in China. This research not only fills the research gap in the international student mobility of PhD level, but also shows the significance of talent mobility and international learning affecting PhD returnees’ career development.