Research with International Students Conference

December 11 – 12, 2023
Hybrid: at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom) and online

This conference is funded by The Spencer Foundation and builds on the upcoming publication of the Research with International Students book (to be published in late 2023). It further establishes a network of critical researchers and scholars who wish to develop more ethical approaches towards research that includes international students as participants and co-researchers. 

Conference focus

There is a growing recognition in research with international students that their experiences are intersectional (George Mwangi et al. 2019) and unequal (Mok and Zhang 2022). Although international students share a migrant identity, there is significant variation in how their experiences may be racialized, gendered, or seen through ableist or heteronormative lenses. For instance, different groups of international students are routinely ‘othered’ (Moosavi 2021) or stereotyped (Heng 2018) through assumptions they should ‘assimilate’ into the cultures and practices of their hosts. Scholars are also increasingly documenting the ways that becoming an international student may lead to renegotiating new minoritized identities in contexts where concepts such as race may be socially and culturally constructed in different ways (Madriaga and McCaig 2019). International students’ experiences with prejudices, xenophobia, and racism are also well documented (Jiang 2021; Harrison and Peacock 2009; Ladegaard 2017), where some research has started to unravel how this may unfold differently for students with different racial (Ramia 2021), religious (Arafeh 2020), gender (Brooks 2015), or dis/abled (Olave-Encina 2022) identities (among others).

However, research focusing on intersectional inequalities is the exception rather than the rule, as international students are routinely collectivised in research as a homogenised group (Jones 2017). Research has also historically operated from positions of deficit (Lomer and Mittelmeier 2021), as international students are often assumed to ‘lack’ experiences or skills necessary for success, particularly compared to home students. Similarly, international students are frequently portrayed as only experiencing challenges or difficulties (Deuchar 2023), which fails to see the complexity of their multidimensional and intersectional experiences. For example, the subfield is rife with research that seeks to ‘fix’ perceived problems with international students’ believed lack of critical thinking, language proficiency, classroom participation, or referencing knowledge, without reflecting that their educational experiences and knowledges may be different, but not deficient (Heng 2018). 

Many current research approaches fail to view international students as ‘epistemic equals’ (Hayes 2019) whose knowledges and experiences are equally worthy of inclusion rather than erasure. Further, the failure to recognise, document, and address intersectional facets of international students’ identities (of race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, class, and more) through research means there are limited evidence-based measures for countering inequalities in practice. 

Given these issues, this conference focuses specifically on research designs and approaches within the subfield of research with international students. We aim to develop more methodological guidance to steer the subfield away from problematic discourses and assumptions. Therefore, we invite presentations which consider issues around the following questions:

  • What critical conceptual and methodological issues currently face research with international students as a subfield?
  • What are practical (macro or micro) considerations for research designs in this subfield?
  • How can researchers consider issues of power, inequality, intersectionality, and ethics in research with international students?
  • How might research with international students be imagined differently?
  • What should the future of research with international students look like?

Conference format

This is a two-day hybrid conference with a face-to-face component at the University of Manchester (UK) that will be streamed online. All presentation sessions will be recorded and shared online afterwards for those not able to attend live, but informal discussion sessions will not be recorded. We encourage as many speakers as possible to attend in person, but contributions will be considered at a distance if required. Prior to the conference, we will hold a pre-conference networking workshop online. We also aim to co-create a set of methodological guides for our website, which participants will be invited to collaborate on online after the conference. We ask all accepted speakers to participate in the full conference. 

Confirmed keynotes

We are pleased to confirm the following keynote speakers will join us at the conference in Manchester:

  • Kalyani Unkule (O.P. Jindal Global University)
  • Chrystal A. George Mwangi (George Mason University)
  • Hanne Kirstine Adriansen (Aarhus University) 

Submission guidance

You are invited to contribute as a presenter. We welcome contributions from around the world and support the inclusion of early career researchers and international student scholars. Authors may submit an abstract for an empirical or theoretical presentation related to the conference theme. Please note that the purpose of this conference is to focus on methodological and conceptual considerations for research with international students on a broader scale, considering the process of how we undertake research in the subfield. While authors are welcome to include examples of their research findings in their presentations, abstracts which fully intend to share research findings only will not be accepted.

You can submit a title and abstract of up to 300 words for consideration here:
All (co-)authors will also be asked to include a short 100-word bio for inclusion in the conference programme.

If the Qualtrics survey is inaccessible for any reason, please contact the organisers. 

Deadline: 12:00 noon UK time on 17 July 2023
Time zone converter: 


This conference is free to attend, in person or online. 

The conference is funded by The Spencer Foundation’s Conference Grants Program. Limited funding is available to support scholars with attending the conference in Manchester (UK). This funding will be competitive and is reserved for those with the highest quality abstracts. Funding will be prioritised for the following categories:

  • Scholars with no institutional funding available for conference travel
  • Scholars based in ‘Global Majority’ or ‘Global South’ contexts
  • Scholars who identify as ethnic, religious, or cultural minorities in their contexts 
  • Disabled scholars
  • Scholars with caring responsibilities 
  • International student scholars
  • Early career researchers 
  • Scholars with any other marginalised or minoritised background or identity in their context 

We are unable to offer funding to scholars who already have institutional funding available for conference attendance. 

The abstract submission form will allow you to indicate whether you would like to be considered for funding to attend. A full application for funding should be submitted by August 31st at:

In the application, you should include a rough budget for the funding you would like to request. If successful, travel and hotels will be booked on your behalf by the conference team (no need to fund up front) and reimbursement is available for visa costs, caring costs, or supporter’s costs. Due to limited available funding, we will likely not be able to fund all requests and ask attendees to keep costs to a minimum to help us stretch the budget as far as we can. We are only able to fund a hotel around the conference days (up to 3 days maximum) and any extended stays will be at the attendee’s own expense. Lunches will be available at no cost on conference days, but other subsistence is at the attendee’s own expense (information about local grocery stores and budget restaurants will be provided). All travel must be in ‘economy’ class. Separate applications must be made for each individual author who wishes to attend.

Maximising your time in the UK: 

Other conferences

We have purposefully scheduled this conference to coincide with two other higher education conferences in the UK, should participants wish to maximise their travel. If you are in receipt of funding to attend our conference, we can pay for travel to/from your choice of an airport or train station in the UK, but not travel between conferences or hotel stays beyond the Research with International Students conference. 

Please note that abstracts to the Research with International Students conference should be significantly different from presentations made at SRHE or ChinaHE.

Collaboration and co-working

If you would like to extend your stay in Manchester for the purposes of collaboration and/or co-working with other conference attendees, we can book university rooms for your use on request. We are also happy to facilitate building connections with other researchers based in the Manchester Institute of Education.

Any questions about the conference can be directed to Jenna Mittelmeier.

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