The European Educational Researcher

Do Students Develop the Way Universities Say They Do? Staff Perceptions of Student Development Of Graduate Attributes in the Context of a Transnational Partnership in Kazakhstan

The European Educational Researcher, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2019, pp. 145-164
OPEN ACCESS VIEWS: 314 DOWNLOADS: 180 Publication date: 15 Jun 2019
There is a crisis in higher education internationally whereby the value of a degree is being called into question. One of the contributing factors to this problem is the growth of the sector internationally. Questions have arisen concerning the quality of provision, especially in the case of courses offered in different contexts as part of transnational partnerships. This research explores the perceptions of staff involved with the delivery of a unique transnational higher education partnership between a Russell Group university in the UK and a new university in Kazakhstan. The research sought to understand whether student development was perceived to be in line with the graduate attributes of the intuitions involved. The research was qualitative, using in depth semi structured interviews with members of faculty involved with the delivery of the foundation course, including administration staff, teachers and managers. Responses from participants indicated that the development of characteristics broadly aligned to those stated in graduate attributes did occur.
Foundation year study, Graduate attributes, Higher Education, Staff perceptions, Student development, Transnational partnerships
Mahon, D., & Murphy, D. (2019). Do Students Develop the Way Universities Say They Do? Staff Perceptions of Student Development Of Graduate Attributes in the Context of a Transnational Partnership in Kazakhstan. The European Educational Researcher, 2(2), 145-164.
  1. Altbach, P. G., & Knight, J. (2007). The Internationalization of Higher Education: Motivations and Realities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 11(3–4), 290–305.
  2. Altbach, P. G., Reisberg, L., & Rumbley, L. E. (2009). Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution. Paris. Retrieved from,_Reisberg,_Rumbley_Tracking_an_Academic_Revolution,_UNESCO_2009.pdf
  3. Astin, A. W. (1972). The Measured Effects of Higher Education. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 404(1), 1–20.
  4. Barber, M., Donnelly, K., Rizvi, S., & Puttnam, D. (2013). An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead. Retrieved from
  5. Barrie, S. C. (2004). A research-based approach to generic graduate attributes policy. Higher Education Research and Development, 23(3), 261–275.
  6. Barrie, S. C. (2006). Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates. Higher Education, 51, 215–241.
  7. Barrie, & Simon. (2005). Rethinking Generic Graduate Attributes. HERDSA News, 27(1), 1–36.
  8. Bath, D., Smith, C., Stein, S., & Swann, R. (2004). Beyond mapping and embedding graduate attributes: bringing together quality assurance and action learning to create a validated and living curriculum. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), 313–328.
  9. Binsardi, A., & Ekwulugo, F. (2003). International marketing of British education: research on the students’ perception and the UK market penetration. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 21(5), 318–327.
  10. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. Buckley, A. (2015). UKES 2015 Students’ perceptions of skills development. York.
  12. Burkhalter, N., & Shegebayev, M. R. (2012). Critical thinking as culture: Teaching post-Soviet teachers in Kazakhstan. International Review of Education, 58(1), 55–72.
  13. Cai, L., & Hall, C. (2016). Motivations, Expectations, and Experiences of Expatriate Academic Staff on an International Branch Campus in China. Journal of Studies in International Education, 20(3), 207–222.
  14. Chankseliani, M. (2017). Charting the development of knowledge on Soviet and post-Soviet education through the pages of comparative and international education journals. Comparative Education, 53(2), 265–283.
  15. Chapman, D. W., & Lindner, S. (2016). Degrees of integrity: the threat of corruption in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 41(2), 247–268.
  16. DfE. (2019). Independent panel report to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding. Retrieved from
  17. Dworkin, S. L. (2012). Sample Size Policy for Qualitative Studies Using In-Depth Interviews. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 1319–1320.
  18. Feldman, K. (1969). The impact of college on students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  19. Fimyar, O. (2014). “Soviet”, “Kazakh” and “World-Class” in the Contemporary Construction of Educational Understanding and Practice in Kazakhstan. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Educational reform and internationalisation : the case of school reform in Kazakhstan (pp. 177–195). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  20. Green, W., & Myatt, P. (2011). Telling tales: A narrative research study of the experiences of new international academic staff at an Australian university. International Journal for Academic Development, 16(1), 33–44.
  21. Henn, M., Weinstein, M., & Foard, N. (2006). A short introduction to social research. London: SAGE.
  22. Johnson, M. S. (2008). Historical legacies of soviet higher education and the transformation of higher education systems in post-Soviet Russia and Eurasia. In D. P. Baker & A. W. Wiseman (Eds.), The Worldwide Transformation of Higher Education (pp. 159–176). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  23. Kim, T. (2010). Transnational academic mobility, knowledge, and identity capital. Discourse, 31(5), 577–591.
  24. Kuraev, A. (2016). Soviet higher education: an alternative construct to the western university paradigm. Higher Education, 71(2), 181–193.
  25. Lines, L. (2016). Ghostwriters guaranteeing grades? The quality of online ghostwriting services available to tertiary students in Australia. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(8), 889–914.
  26. Mahon, D. (2018, December 13). An investigation into the extent to which a transnational university partnership develops students in the manner predicted by the contributing institutions’ graduate attributes. University of Nottingham. Retrieved from
  27. Mahon, D., & Niklas, R. (2016). The Evolution of a Foundation Program: Reflections on the Five Year Partnership between University College London and Nazarbayev University. In P. Blessinger & B. Cozza (Eds.), University Partnerships for Academic Programs and Professional Development (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (pp. 93–109). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  28. Marshall, M. N. (1996). Sampling for qualitative research Sample size. Family Practice, 13(6), 522–525.
  29. Morris, S., Cranney, J., Jeong, J. M., & Mellish, L. (2013). Developing psychological literacy: Student perceptions of graduate attributes. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65(1), 54–62.
  30. Neumann, R. (1992). Perceptions of the Teaching-Research Nexus: A Framework for Analysis. Higher Education. Springer.
  31. Oleksiyenko, A. (2014). Socio-economic forces and the rise of the world-class research university in the post-Soviet higher education space: The case of Ukraine. European Journal of Higher Education, 4(3), 249–265.
  32. Pascarella, E. T., & Terenzini, P. T. (2005). How college affects students. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass.
  33. Pitman, T., & Broomhall, S. (2009). Australian universities, generic skills and lifelong learning. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 28(4), 439–458.
  34. Saniyazova, A. (2017). Student perceptions of their first year university experience: Case study of Nazarbayev University (PhD Thesis). Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan.
  35. Smith, K. (2009). Transnational teaching experiences: an under‐explored territory for transformative professional development. International Journal for Academic Development, 14(2), 111–122.
  36. Stemler, S., & Colors, P. (2001). An Overview of Content Analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(17), 1–6.
  37. Strivens, J. (2010). Graduate attributes in curriculum development through personal development planning. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from
  38. Thomas, D. R. (2006). A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237–246.
  39. Universities UK. (2018). Patterns and Trends in UK Higher Education 2018. London . Retrieved from
  40. Vora, N. (2014). Ethnic and Racial Studies Between global citizenship and Qatarization : negotiating Qatar’s new knowledge economy within American branch campuses. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 37(12), 2243–2260.
  41. Wilkins, S. (2011). Who benefits from foreign universities in the Arab Gulf States? Australian Universities’ Review, 53, 73–83.
  42. World Economic Forum. (2018). The Future of Jobs Report 2018 Insight Report Centre for the New Economy and Society. Geneva. Retrieved from
  43. Ziguras, C., & Mcburnie, G. (2011). Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific. In S. Marginson, S. Kaur, & E. Sawir (Eds.), Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific (Vol. 36). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Creative Commons License