Australian Universities’ preparation and support for fly-in fly-out academics

Lynch, K 2013, Australian Universities’ preparation and support for fly-in fly-out academics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Australian Universities’ preparation and support for fly-in fly-out academics
Author(s) Lynch, K
Year 2013
Abstract There is consensus in the transnational higher education literature that the selection, preparation and support of academics are essential for ensuring the delivery of quality education in transnational programs. This is particularly important in Australia—one of the largest exporters of higher education services in the world—where fly-in fly-out transnational teaching makes a significant contribution.

This thesis explores the range of personal, professional, cultural and teaching challenges that fly-in fly-out academics experience. It analyses how academics are recruited, remunerated and prepared for managing these challenges while living and teaching in foreign cultures. It examines how the types of challenges, preparation and support have changed from those documented in previous research.

Most previous studies have focused on discrete aspects of transnational teaching, such as teaching challenges prior to departure or development and support opportunities for partner staff. There are few comprehensive studies seeking to identify the challenges academics face from the stage of recruitment through teaching offshore to returning to Australia.

There are also few studies capturing academics’ perceptions of the value of the different types of professional support provided by universities. Perhaps more significant is the paucity of research, mapping how Australian universities prepare academics prior to departure, support them when they are teaching offshore and facilitate ongoing professional development upon return.

This study examines the types of preparation and support provided to staff through observing 25 academic development sessions; reviewing recruitment, policy, preparation and support documents from 20 Australian universities; and interviews conducted with 30 academics and 10 academic developers (40 in total) from 15 of these universities. The collection and analysis of the data used a qualitative methodology informed by the constructivist-interpretive tradition.

This investigation found few differences in the types of challenges identified by academics over the past decade. In most universities there are no formal recruitment protocols for fly-in fly-out academics and little formal preparation for offshore teaching assignments. There is a marked absence of support for academics during overseas sojourns and on return to Australia. This study also documents a diverse, complex and interconnected set of personal, professional, cultural and teaching challenges facing most academics at all phases of transnational teaching. The study indicates that preparation and support provided as part of a discipline team-based approach was perceived as far more effective than other approaches.

The findings generate a series of recommendations for Australian universities to consider in the recruitment and remuneration, preparation and support for fly-in fly-out academics teaching offshore. Future research related to designing and implementing innovative professional development practice is also proposed.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) international education
transnational education
offshore education
higher education
fly-in fly-out workers
academic development
professional development
faculty development
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Created: Fri, 06 Jun 2014, 14:14:13 EST by Denise Paciocco
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