This study provides a critique of institutional discourses that are informed by race, culture and identity, learning constraints and particular constructions of English and offers ways of thinking that encourage multiplicity and complexity. Its principal aim is to probe issues relating to the identity formation of international TESOL students in the context of the globalisation of international education. To achieve this aim, the study poses questions about the commodification of the TESOL machinery through marketing programmes and its impact on international TESOL students. In addressing these questions the study considers Australian universities’ marketing practices, the discursive representation of international students by these universities and the government, as well as wider matters of educational policy. The research draws on poststructuralist and postcolonial theories, particularly on selected aspects of the works of Foucault and Said and in so doing demonstrates the usefulness of such theories for exploring issues associated with international TESOL students. Taking from these theorists the concepts of power/knowledge, subjectivity, identity and agency, it also incorporates the work of cultural theorists such as Althusser and Hall. The participants were drawn from a wide range of cultural, linguistic and professional backgrounds, enrolled in Masters of TESOL at Australian universities. Through dialogic sessions with them and documentary analysis the discursive practices of the university sites were examined. So too were the subjectivities of students, as they became involved in the various activities of the institution in which they were enrolled, before, during and after their studies. Overall, the analysis reveals how the subjectivities of international TESOL students are constructed both by the university and the students themselves. The students’ accounts of their experiences broadly conflicted with the sweeping claims made by certain institutes, as well as by the dominant knowledges of marketing, international education and globalisation. The analysis shows how the subjectivities of international TESOL students are constructed by both the university and by the students themselves. It also shows how economics has become firmly entrenched in a market discourse and overall how international students are inscribed within policy shifts. The academic welfare, teaching and learning processes of the university indicated little awareness of the fluidity of culture and language or hybridity of its international students. A consequence of this myopic vision of the university is that students are subjected to constricting, divisive and exclusionary discursive practices that fail to properly acknowledge their complex histories, subjectivities and professional aspirations. An identity has been created for them that is not only superficial but also inaccurate. The findings point to the benefits of examining through a Foucauldian analytic such discursive practices of the institution alongside the subjectivities of students. The approach adopted in the research points to the possibility of moving beyond the current reductionist dualisms and binaries to the adoption of educational and institutional practices that recognise students’ hybridity and syncretic subjectivity. In such a space, the meaning of ‘international students’ and the institutional and educational policies and practices designed for them might be renegotiated. The study concludes that if the goal of genuine internationalisation is to be achieved, there is a need for significant institutional change.
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