Students' struggles for cultural and academic recognition: A Socio-Analysis of an Intercultural Learning Environment in a Sino-Danish Higher Education Collaboration

Publikation: AndetAndet bidragForskning


Universities today are under increased influence from globalization. Internationalization strategies have become a part of most universities’ management plans and new kinds of transnational branch-campuses, joint university ventures, and exchange programs are opening every year, attracting students from around the world.
On the basis of a three-week fieldwork at the Sino-Danish Center in Beijing, a transnational university collaboration between Denmark and China, this thesis contributes with a student perspective to investigate how the internationalization of higher education is affecting students’ learning experiences and the relation between different cultural and academic traditions. Inspired by the socio-analytical method of Pierre Bourdieu, the trajectory and educational strategies of four different students are analysed through individual interviews, in order to make visible with what interests they are studying at SDC. Based on these findings, the students’ participation in the educational practice is analysed through interviews, observation of the field, and by drawing upon literature on the internationalization of higher education. Through this analysis, the structure of the field is mapped out with specific emphasis on the misrecognition of the social order related to the cultural backgrounds of the students.
The thesis concludes that Western forms of academic knowledge are dominating the learning environment at SDC, establishing a social hierarchy between the Chinese and international students. Further, the Chinese students’ successful acculturation to the Western standards is contingent on their initial amounts of English linguistic and cultural capital. Meanwhile, the Chinese students seek academic recognition outside the westernized curriculum by working for their Chinese tutor, which puts a double strain on them. The dominance of Western academic standards at SDC results in the lack of environments for mutually benefitting intercultural interaction and learning. A gap between the students are thus created on the basis of their cultural backgrounds and national/regional belonging, which in the end negatively affects their intercultural learning experiences. Overcoming these challenges first of all requires an effort to offset the academic and linguistic advantages of the international students, which has been institutionalized in the official learning activities at SDC.
Publikationsdato1 okt. 2017
UdgiverRoskilde Universitet
Antal sider100
StatusUdgivet - 1 okt. 2017

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