Eastern European Academic Mobility in Australian and European Contexts

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Increased academic mobility and migration nowadays have a noticeable effect on the everyday functioning of the higher educational institutions worldwide. This comparative paper is aimed at exploring work and study-related experiences of academic migrants from Eastern Europe in Australian universities and in one of the major post-graduate and post-doctoral institution in Europe: the European University Institute (EUI).

This paper highlights the role of everyday embodied culture in academic intercultural interactions by looking at the daily experiences of highly mobile East European academics coming from mainly collectivist societies to the Western largely individualist higher educational institutions. It examines academic intercultural dialogue between collectivist and individualist cultural traditions and hopes to contribute to understanding of how these cultural patterns interact to produce successful intercultural exchange in daily communication.

This study is based on the empirical fieldwork research in Australia and the EUI utilizing qualitative methodology and includes three types of data collecting methods: focus groups, individual in-depth interviews and participant observation. Primary data were gathered in Australia and Europe in the course of 2007. A total of 25 individual in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with a variety of key informants. Interviews were based on the semi-structured questionnaires that allowed the participants greater flexibility in contributing to and shaping the data collection process. These exploratory and interpretive research techniques proved to be indispensable for maximizing opportunities for discovery and interpretation and for allowing the participants to have a greater role in formulating the research themes.

This paper aims to contribute in preparing academia to remain forward-looking in its employment policies and educational programs and fully make use of academic mobility and migration for public benefit. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that “brain gain” does not turn into “brain waste” and this paper endeavors to contribute to publicly useful knowledge.


Keywords: Academic Mobility, Professional Migration, Intercultural Dialogue, Cultural Capital, Embodied Culture
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Liudmila Kirpitchenko

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology
School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Liudmila Kirpitchenko is a researcher at the Scanlon Foundation Social Cohesion Research Program and a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, at the School of Political and Social Inquiry, at Monash University. Her research interests include the processes of interculturation, intercultural harmony, various patterns of skilled migration, cultural capital and habitus, intercultural citizenship and postmodernist theories. Her thesis focuses on academic mobility from Eastern Europe and the role of embodied culture in the integration processes. She has worked for several years as a research analyst at the Department of Canadian Heritage in Ottawa (Canada) and authored research studies on cultural diversity, social inclusion, cultural participation and cultural industries. She has published in refereed international conference proceedings. She holds a B.A. Highest Honours in Languages from Kiev Linguistic University (Ukraine) and an M.A. in Central/East European Studies from Carleton University (Canada).

Ref: I08P0524