Decentred attachments: international Vietnamese doctoral students’ connectedness and connectivity in Australia

Ms Lily Nguyen1

1The University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

International students’ connectedness with people, places and communities in both home and host countries plays a critical role to their educational experience, psychological wellbeing and success (Marginson, Nyland, Sawir, & Forbes-Mewett, 2010; Wiers-Jenssen, 2003; Yeh & Inose, 2003). It is the benefit of both the home country and host institutions to understand the nature and forms of international students’ connectedness and better support them during and after the transnational sojourn. Research in this stream has mainly focused on undergraduate and master students, but little has been done on doctoral students. This presentation features part of my PhD project which investigates international Vietnamese doctoral students’ journey in Australia. It will focus on these students’ connectedness and connectivity in navigating their PhD study. The research is based on 38 one-to-one in-depth interviews with late-stage Vietnamese PhD students and new graduates from different Australian universities. The data were interpreted via the lenses of transnationalism (Vertovec, 1999) and the concept of transnational social fields (Gargano, 2009). The result of the study reveals the dynamics in the students’ feelings of attachment to their home and host country and how this consciousness impacts their pre-existing and new networks. Their connectedness is constructed idiosyncratically, influenced by their professional, educational histories, identities, and future orientations. There is a spectrum of feelings of attachment with home (Vietnam) and host country (Australia) that is interestingly expressed through the interviewees’ accounts.


Lily is a PhD candidate at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. Her research investigates international Vietnamese doctoral students’ learning experience and identity development in Australia. She’s now in her fourth year of candidature. Before her study in Australia, Lily worked as an English teacher for 8 years at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi, the same academy from which she received her first degree in International Politics and Vietnamese Diplomacy in 2004. From 2007-2009, Lily studied an MA in English Language Teaching at Assumption University of Thailand in Bangkok and graduated with distinction. She has also had extensive experience working as an interpreter for the Central Party Organising Committee. Her research interests are doctoral education, international student mobility, international student identity, Vietnamese HE, and English language teaching.


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