The internationalisation of Higher Education - opportunities and constraints (A case study of the PhD journey in Tourism Studies)
This study explores the role of the PhD and internationalisation in expanding and diversifying the canon of knowledge in Tourism Studies. A community of mainly white, middle class, male, Anglophone, western academics, it has been widely argued, has traditionally produced tourism knowledge. However, the large number of international research students in Tourism Studies in the UK appear to provide an opportunity for intercultural knowledge exchange and the creation of body of knowledge which embraces multiple worldviews and perspectives. However, there is little evidence that tourism knowledge is developing in this way and this study explores the PhD journey and the constraints which surround it. The research took place in two phases.
The first consisted in exploratory conversations with supervisors and students in the three UK Higher Education Institutions with the greatest numbers of doctoral students in Tourism. These conversations explored the factors influencing the PhD journey. The second phase of research built upon key themes that had emerged from the first phase and involved in-depth interviews with six students and six supervisors at the same three institutions. Analysis was informed by critical language awareness, in order to identify how language conventions and practices are invested with power relations. Results showed that the PhD journey and, ultimately, the creation of knowledge is a very personal and passionate process which is influenced by many factors. It is an isolated journey for both home and international students with few opportunities for intercultural exchange. It highlighted the powerful role of gatekeepers, such as supervisors, sponsors, external examiners and journal editors, in the journey and the legitimisation of tourism knowledge.
The study showed an increased focus on skills training within the doctorate, limiting opportunities for extending knowledge and meaning the dominant voices will remain entrenched in the canon of tourism knowledge.