Transition and the international taught postgraduate nursing student
: Qualitative evidence from Middle Eastern students in a UK university

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


This thesis explores the transitions that international taught postgraduate nursing students experience when enrolled on a MSc in Nursing programme at a UK university. The study focuses on the middle eastern students’ experience as they transition from home to the university and also on their return journey back home. Internationalisation as a policy objective in higher education is continually evolving. Higher education institutions have witnessed significant growth in the enrolment of international students.

The research is grounded in Schlossberg’s transition theory (Schlossberg et al., 1995) and particularly focuses on its key features: Situation, Self, Support and Strategies. A two phased qualitative approach was employed. The first drew on semi-structured interviews with fourteen international students who were selected to collect the data for phase 1. In phase 2, follow-up interviews were conducted with seven of these international students. The qualitative method offered a new and detailed insight into the lived experiences of students as they sought to understand the cultural norms of a new society, the academic conventions and regulations of a new university system, and the professional standards demanded in clinical placements.

The thesis concludes that international postgraduate middle eastern students enrolled on a clinical programme are not only challenged while adapting culturally and socially to the new host country but also experience similar challenges on returning home to their societies. The ways in which students negotiate and make sense of this transition process offers a valuable contribution to the literature on transition whilst simultaneously offering new data upon which universities can draw when instituting support services for international students.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2026.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsQueen's University Belfast
SupervisorCaitlin Donnelly (Supervisor) & Kevin Gormley (Supervisor)


  • International students
  • postgraduate nursing student
  • transition
  • Schlossberg's Theoretical Framework

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