Visitors from Other Cultures: Views of Muslim Overseas Students in Britain

Thomas Hawes, Sarah Thomas


The UK is currently the second most popular destination for international students worldwide yet there is very public uncertainty as to whether Muslim students should be encouraged to come here. There has been much discussion in the media but, apparently, no one has thought of consulting these students themselves, with the result that there is relatively little available research on students from the Islamic world as a whole. What are their common motivations for studying in UK? What if anything do they admire in British culture and what do they find difficult here? Our general conclusion is that our participants make sense of their sojourn in UK as a learning and growing experience, ultimately empowering. For Britain these students and their families are a particularly lucrative source of income, but their presence could be made (even) more beneficial if our universities are prepared to invest extra time and money in engaging with them. We need a shift to a bidirectional exchange model where overseas and local students can all benefit. Muslim groups on campus should be helped to raise their profile to counter feelings of rejection and dispel the potential impression that the Islamic community is secretive or unwelcoming. We believe that such cultural exchange can only be positive and this study has shown that there is probably more goodwill than many imagine.


Muslim Overseas Students; Cultural Exchange

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