The number of international students seeking a foreign education, particularly in Westernized countries, has grown dramatically over the past decade, and is predicted to continue to increase, despite a period of disruption due to COVID-19. Given this growth, there is a significant body of research on key insights into the initial transition experiences, both academic and personal, of international students to the host country, with a developing body of research exploring their post-study transition. Understanding these post-study transitions is important in creating policy and services that appropriately support international students. Due to the diverse and sometimes complex post-study pathways of former international students, accessing this population to conduct qualitative research can create challenges for researchers. To help address these challenges, the authors highlight three critical considerations based on their qualitative research experiences in Westernized countries with former international students, including conceptual understandings, logistical planning, and relational engagement. Moreover, the authors share examples of pragmatic solutions related to challenges with conceptual understandings, logistical planning, and relational engagement in qualitative research with former international students. The purpose of this article is to start and invite discussion around how best to reach, access, and work with former international students to expand qualitative research on the post-study experience.


former international students, qualitative research, research design

Author Bio(s)

Dr Jon Woodend is an assistant professor in counselling psychology at the University of Victoria (Canada) on the traditional and unceded territories of the the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples. Jon is also an adjunct lecturer in business, law and governance at James Cook University (Australia), and a registered psychologist (Alberta, Canada). Jon’s research interests include international career transitions, and the professional development of scientist-practitioners. Please direct correspondence to jonwoodend@uvic.ca.

Professor Nancy Arthur is the Dean of Research for UniSA Business at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, which is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people. Nancy is also a professor emeritus, University of Calgary, Canada, and an elected fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association. Nancy’s research focuses on diversity and social justice in professional practice, and the transition experiences of international students and workers. Please direct correspondence to nancy.arthur@unisa.edu.au.


This article was created through funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through a Canada Graduate Scholarship and an Insight Grant, file number [435-2014-0529].

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1503-0291; https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8247-6122



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