CGHE Seminar 118

Us and them? Analysing the inclusion of foreign-born academics in British academia

  • Thursday, 24 Oct 2019 12:30 - 14:00
  • Room 804, UCL Institute of Education
  • Toma Pustelnikovaite, Abertay University

Listen to the seminar here.

Featuring research with Dr Shiona Chillas (University of St Andrews).

The number of foreign academics in the UK has been increasing over the last forty years, and currently comprises a third of UK’s academic profession (Lenihan and Witherspoon 2018). Existing research on migrant scholars, however, tends to focus on international careers and analyse mobility as a resource for career development and progression. Distinctively, our paper seeks to understand how the academic profession has responded to the influx of migrant scholars.

We draw on the concept of social closure in the sociology of professions, and on empirical data from 62 semi-structured interviews with foreign-born academics working in 13 British universities. Findings show that academia has developed three social closure strategies – integration, exclusion and subordination – to control the absorption of migrant academics. The profession enacts these strategies to subtly regulate access, work and intra-professional relationships, selectively incorporating foreign-born academics and maintaining the status quo.

The paper demonstrates nuances underlying the influx of migrant academics into the UK, suggesting that patterns of inclusion shape migrant scholars’ working lives.


All seminars are free and open to the public. No advance booking required.


You can register to watch the livestream of this seminar.

Toma Pustelnikovaite

Toma Pustelnikovaite

Toma Pustelnikovaite is Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Abertay University. She completed her PhD in Management Studies at the University of St Andrews, with a thesis on the employment and inclusion of foreign-born academics in the UK. Toma’s current research analyses diversity and internationalisation in academia, as well as the (un)sustainable working lives in contemporary organisations.

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