Academic literacies research Academic literacies research

The role of recruitment agents in the internationalisation of higher education

Anna Robinson-Pant and Anna Magyar

This scoping study, funded by the Society for Research in Higher Education, set out to reconceptualise the role of agents within the HE internationalisation policy agenda by mapping the recruitment agency landscape and attempting to put student experience into the picture. Through a review of related literature, interviews with recruitment agents (in person and by Skype), university international office staff and observation of agent briefing programmes, the project offers insights for investigating the complex processes of mediation between recruitment agents, international students and UK universities. Through the process of the project, the researchers have begun to identify and engage with institutions working in this area (including the British Council), to explore how the findings can contribute to future policy on internationalisation. Anna Robinson-Pant has joined a working group at the QAA to revise their Guidance for UK higher education providers, ‘International Students studying in the UK’ drawing on project findings and her work on academic literacies/internationalisation of higher education.

Anna Robinson-Pant and Anna Magyar have also conducted research in the area of academic literacies as part of several UEA-funded Teaching Fellowships: 

Language and academic study in a second language

(What does IELTS 6.5 mean and how can we improve the experience and engagement of international Masters students in the Faculty of Social Science?)

UEA Teaching Fellowship project, 2012-13
Anna Magyar and Anna Robinson-Pant were awarded a Teaching Fellowship to investigate and generate better understanding amongst UEA staff about what the International English Language Test (IELTS) scores really mean, and to explore the implications of these findings for international students making the transition to academic study at Masters level. 
This study explored comparatively, through interviews and some observation, the language experiences, strategies and difficulties of two distinct groups of international students at UEA: so-called ‘direct entry' students who arrive to study a Masters course, having already met the language requirements of the course they have applied to, and those who arrive in the UK in order to participate in a pre-sessional course at INTO which will bring them up to the required language level. It also built on a report about the IELTS test written by Anna Magyar, which was based on interviews with language teachers in INTO and a literature review of research related to the IELTS. The methodology drew on the approach and findings of the previous Teaching Fellowship research project that Anna M and Anna RP conducted with international students, which gave insights into the cultural and linguistic issues that they faced on entering a UEA doctoral programme.
The project ran from March 2012 to June 2013 and involved workshops with staff directing Masters courses across UEA, to examine the implications of the research for current MA level provision and teaching, learning and assessment approaches.  The final workshop in June 2013 also brought together staff from INTO and from SSF Masters courses to develop recommendations for enhancing practice.

Addressing the needs of first year international research students and their supervisors: an academic literacies approach

This action research project developed resource materials for newly arrived international research students at UEA (including a DVD made by international research students on their experiences), as well as contributing to supervisors' understanding of the transitions that international students make in terms of academic reading and writing practices. This work built on previous Teaching Fellowship projects conducted by Nalini Boodhoo and
Anna Robinson-Pant on ‘Improving the experiences of international research students' (2006) and Anna Magyar on ‘Understanding plagiarism across disciplines and cultures' (2007). Robinson-Pant's earlier research with international students – Cross-cultural perspectives on educational research (Open University Press, 2006) – won international recognition through the BMW Group Award for Intercultural Learning 2007 (Theory Category). Robinson-Pant, Magyar and Boodhoo have facilitated seminars and workshops in this area for faculty and students across UEA and by invitation at other networks and universities in the UK. 
The theoretical implications of the project are explored in the following article:
Magyar, A. and A. Robinson-Pant (2011) Internationalising doctoral research: developing theoretical perspectives on practice, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp 663-677

Writing for publication programme

(BAICE/Compare-funded, from  2007 - present)
Anna Magyar, Anna Robinson-Pant, Nitya Rao (Compare Editor) and Theresa Lillis (Open University) continue to support the research-based BAICE/Compare writing for publication programme which they set up in 2007 as a strategy to address the discursive and practical barriers faced by writers in the South. This programme of support for new writers to Compare has continued to run on an annual basis and helped to ensure a greater diversity of articles submitted to the journal. Anna Robinson-Pant and Nitya Rao (current editor) ran a workshop at the BAICE 2012 conference in Cambridge (aimed at doctoral students wanting to publish from their thesis) and Anna Magyar developed further the on-line version of the programme.
Anna Magyar, Nitya Rao and Theresa Lillis ran a one-day workshop at UKFIET conference in Oxford in September 2013. The workshop was followed by mentoring support by an academic literacy specialist and an expert in the writer's subject area. Anna Magyar and Nitya Rao facilitated the workshop in Ethiopia in 2014 which was attended by researchers from neighbouring countries (travel supported by BAICE and UNGEI). A similar workshop is being held in Mumbai, India during 2015. For further details about how to register for the programme (distance or face-to-face), please contact:
You can read a detailed analysis of and reflections on the effectiveness of the programme here:
Lillis, T., Magyar, A. and A. Robinson-Pant (2013) Mentoring writers towards international publication: a case study from one journal, in Pattern, I. & V. Matarese, Supporting research writing: roles and challenges in multilingual settings, Chandos
Lillis, T., Magyar, A. and A. Robinson-Pant (2010) An international journal's attempts to address inequalities in academic publishing: developing a writing for publication programme, Compare: a journal of comparative and  international education, Vol. 40/6, pp 781 - 800 
The following article explores the development of the journal Compare in relation to the changing relationship between the fields of comparative education and development studies:
Evans, K. and A. Robinson-Pant (2010) Compare: exploring a forty year journey through comparative education and international development, Compare: a journal of comparative and  international education, Vol. 40/6, pp 693-710
Other publications under this theme include:
Robinson-Pant, A. and N. Singal (2013) Researching ethically across cultures: issues of knowledge, power and voice (Editorial introduction), Compare, Vol. 43.4, June
Robinson-Pant, A. and B. Street (2012) Students' and tutors' understanding of ‘new' academic literacy practices, in Castello, M. and C. Donahue (2012) (Eds) University writing: selves and texts in academic societies, in G. Rijlaarsdam (series ed.) Volume Series in Writing, London: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. pp 71-92
Robinson-Pant, A. (2010) ‘Internationalisation of higher education: challenges for the doctoral supervisor'
Robinson-Pant, A. (2009) ‘Changing Academies: exploring international PhD students' perspectives on ‘host' and ‘home' universities', Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp 417 - 429
Thomson, P. and M. Walker (eds) The Routledge Doctoral Supervisor's Companion: Supporting effective research in education and the social sciences, Routledge, London