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Rethinking Employability of International Student Graduates of US and UK Universities from a Postcolonial and Critical Realist Lens: A Narrative Review



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Darni, Rizqarossaa 


From a critical realist and postcolonial angle, this paper explores the underlying socio-cultural mechanisms driving international students in their decisions and actions when transitioning from university to employment. For international students coming from the Global South (Asia, Africa, and Latin America), studying in a university in the US or UK requires not only multiple steps of actions involving a lot of money, effort, and time, it places them in a consistent state of uncertainty and emotional struggle from systemic racism, insecurity, and structural integration. In this paper, I will use Homi Bhabha’s (1994) concept of ‘third space’ or ‘hybridity’ and Roy Bhaskar’s (1975, 1989) critical realist ‘stratified ontology’ to rethink international students' employability and provide an alternative perspective to understand the realities of international student employability. This narrative review explores the conditions that enable students to transition to the workplace and experience shifting their identity from an international student to an international employee. Rather than problematizing international students’ ability to gain employment, I will take away the general focus from ‘student competence’ and use a morphogenetic approach (Archer, 1995), where I rethink employability as a process rather than as an ability. This allows us to uncover the cycle of social injustices that international students encounter since coming to study in the US/UK. In this review, I illustrated how current ways of learning in universities in the global north might oppress their transition options and mobility. I will conclude by discussing how hybridity can be used to uncover sociocultural mechanisms in international student transitions to the workplace and suggest perspectives that can be useful for universities, employers, policymakers, and future international students.



International higher education, social justice in higher education, employability, international students, postcolonialism, decoloniality, third space, critical realism

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CERJ, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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