International vocational education and training—The migration and learning mix

Author/s: Ly Thi Tran, Chris Nyland

Edition: Volume 51, Number 1, April 2011

Summary: International VET students have divergent, shifting and in some cases multiple purposes for undertaking their VET courses. Students’ motives may be instrumental and/or intrinsic and can include obtaining permanent residency, accumulating skills that can secure good employment, gaining a foothold that leads to higher education, and/or personal transformation. Moreover, students’ study purposes and imagining of acquired values are neither fixed nor unitary. They can be shaped and reshaped by their families and personal aspirations and by the social world and the learning environment with which they interact. We argue that, whatever a student’s study purpose, s/he needs to engage in a learning practice and should be provided with a high quality education. Indeed, we insist this remains the case even if students enrol only in order to gain the qualifications needed to migrate. The paper details the association between migration and learning, and argues that the four variations emerging from the empirical data of this study that centre on migration and skills’ accumulation better explain this association than does the ‘international VET students simply want to migrate’ perspective. We conclude with a discussion of why the stereotype that holds VET international students are mere ‘PR hunters’ is unjust and constitutes a threat to the international VET sector.

Keywords: international students, VET, motives, migration, quality, education

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 51_1. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

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