Post-Degree Intentions of Female International Undergraduate Students Studying in Malaysia

A Qualitative Study




expectations, female students, global mobility, influencing factors, international mobility, study abroad


Higher education has been positively linked with increased opportunity for women, including enhanced employability, increased migration, enriched cultural capital, and improved language skills. With the number of international students rising, understanding postdegree intentions is increasingly important for institutions, policy makers, and administrators. This qualitative study explored the postdegree intentions of female international undergraduate students at the Malaysian campus of an Australian university. In-depth interviews were conducted with students from a range of degree programs and data was studied using thematic analysis. Findings revealed that postdegree intentions were substantially influenced by other people and policies; a common aspiration was to balance career and family; postdegree intentions were not solely career-focused; and the students anticipated discrimination and inequality but were determined to successfully navigate these.

Author Biographies

Alison Kelly, Curtin University, Australia

ALISON KELLY is a Master of Philosophy candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University of Technology. Her major research interests lie in the area of higher education and international students.

Dawn Bennett, Curtin University, Australia

DAWN BENNETT is Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Creative Workforce Initiative with Curtin University. Her research focuses on the development of employability, including identity and graduate work. Dawn is a National Senior Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. Dawn is Vice-Chair Australia for the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows. Publications appear at

Beena Giridharan, Curtin University, Malaysia

BEENA GIRIDHARAN is the Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor at Curtin University, Malaysia. In her role, she reports to the Pro Vice- Chancellor and provides academic, financial, strategic, and administrative leadership to Curtin Malaysia, with a focus on academic operational efficiency. Prior to this, Beena was the Dean for Learning and Teaching at Curtin Malaysia from 2011–2016. Her doctoral degree from Curtin University, Western Australia, is in Applied Linguistics and Education. Her research and academic expertise is in: vocabulary acquisition in ESL, educational administration and leadership; higher education practices, transnational education, work-integrated learning, and ethno-linguistic studies in indigenous communities.

Lorna Rosenwax, Curtin University, Australia

LORNA ROSENWAX was the Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University. Prior to this role she was the Head, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work at Curtin University. Her research has centered on inequitable access to health and community services in the last years of life and in cancer survivorship, occupational therapy practices and tertiary education.


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How to Cite

Kelly, A., Bennett, D., Giridharan, B., & Rosenwax, L. (2020). Post-Degree Intentions of Female International Undergraduate Students Studying in Malaysia: A Qualitative Study. Journal of International Students, 10(1), 145–158.



Research Articles