Algwil, Kamila (2016) Learning Experiences of Libyan Master’s Students at a UK University: Intercultural Adaptation and Identity. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis addresses the learning experiences of Libyan students studying master’s courses in different disciplines at a UK university. It is a story of students who came to the UK at a particular point in time after civil war and from ongoing conflict. This study uses communities of practice (CoPs) theory as a conceptual framework to highlight the significance of the knowledge and skills that are developed through social interaction with colleagues and tutors within the master’s course and the effects of that on Libyan students’ learning and identity. The aims of the research are to investigate Libyan students’ perceptions and perspectives of their experiences in the United Kingdom higher education (UK HE) system; to explore Libyan students’ perceptions of their previous educational and socio-cultural experiences on their acculturation and learning; to evaluate the nature of the interaction between Libyan students and their colleagues; and to consider their perceptions of identity and change. The study was qualitative and interpretive, examining Libyan students’ expectations, perceptions, perspectives, experiences and aspirations of the UK HE system. Semi-structured interviews and observation were the main sources of data.
The findings reveal that Libyan students encounter a number of challenges in the new learning environment. Some of these challenges are common to all international students such as unfamiliarity with the UK HE system, currency and confidence and the challenge of independent study; other challenges such as concern about the environment and lack of security might be attributable to the consequences of civil war and ongoing conflict and specific to this group of Libyan students. Among other things, the findings indicate that there was antagonism, avoidance of interaction, fear and distrust between the Libyan students themselves owing to tribal loyalties and political divisions that relate to the consequence of the initial and ongoing conflict within Libya. This limited integration, hindered mutual engagement and undermined the support that might have been expected between fellow Libyans. However, despite the alienation and schism within their own community, Libyan students joined multicultural classes to create new communities of practice and to interact and share activity with other international colleagues.
The findings also reveal that participation in multicultural classes and mutual engagement with international colleagues assisted the Libyan students to acquire the essential components of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) and to complete each other’s competence (complementary contribution). They acquired knowledge and skills through social interaction in shared activity with their colleagues and tutors within the master’s community and through employing individual strategies and techniques. Finally, the results also indicate that participants modified some aspects of their Libyan traditional cultural values, temporarily while in the UK. Religious values, however, which are core aspects for all Libyan students’ identity did not change despite the impact of living in a new socio-cultural context and being members of the master’s community, nor did they appear to inhibit integration and socialisation with their host and international colleagues. Published papers see appendix 9.

Final thesis - ALGWIL.pdf - Accepted Version
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