Cross Cultural Supervision Project


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The views expressed in the project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

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Overview of the Project

Project logoOver the last three decades, there has been a marked increase in opportunities for students enrolled in both undergraduate and in postgraduate degrees to complete some or all of their studies outside their home country. Students studying outside their home country must adapt to a new culture, and for many there is also the need to learn and communicate in a language that is not their first. International postgraduate research students and their supervisors may face an additional challenge if there are mismatches in their expectations about aspects of candidature and supervisory practice. This site contains resources developed from interviews and focus groups with international higher degree research candidates and supervisors about their experiences.

  1. Video and Scenarios: This site contains material which portrays either in written or visual format some aspects of higher degree research supervision in a cross-cultural context. Each scenario gives the perspectives of both the supervisor and the candidate. All characters are composites of interviewees.
  2. Strategies: This site contains collations of possible solutions suggested by candidates and supervisors in interviews.
  3. Faculties and Departments: This site contains two distinctively different resources:
    • a collation of possible solutions suggested by candidates and supervisors in interviews titled “Are you ready for cross-cultural supervision? A Checklist for departments and faculties”; and
    • “Participant Voices”, which contains quotes taken from interview transcripts to emphasise issues raised.
  4. Bibliography: The following bibliography contains key articles conference proceedings, books and book chapters the project team found useful.

photos of people from diffenrent backgrounds and genders

About the Project

The approach taken

The project utilised a range of research methodologies including:

  • Identifying important issues from supervisor and candidate perspectives using focus groups and semi-structured interviews
  • Thematic analysis of interview data with confirmatory evidence from the literature
  • Examining the literature for current evidence to inform best practice


This project was funded by a competitive grant from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) and in kind support from the Macquarie University, the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland. We thank them for their support.

Team members

The initial chief investigator was Professor Sue Spence (now at Griffith University). The majority of the project was completed by the project team:

  • at Macquarie University: Associate Professor Judi Homewood, Associate Professor Anna Reid (now at Sydney Conservatorium of Music), Dr Theresa Winchester-Seeto and Ms Christa Jacenyik-Trawoger
  • at the University of Queensland: Dr Catherine Manathunga
  • at the University of Newcastle: Professor Sid Bourke and Professor Allyson Holbrook

The external advisor on the project was Dr Peg Nightingale.

Research assistance was provided by Dr Claire Wakefield, Elizabeth Reid, Jane Thogersen, Beverley Simmons, and Dr. Maryam Jamarani.

Dr Clare Wakefield developed and wrote the scenarios and video scripts.

Mark Parry produced the videos.

Jacqueline Mackaway produced the final report.

We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the participants at doctoral discussion day (held at Macquarie University in September 2008) and the 38 candidates and 34 supervisors who were interviewed for the project.

We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the following people to the Reference group; Jean Brick, Prof. John Hooper, Dr. Kate Lloyd, Dr. Peggy Nightingale, and Prof. Sandra Wills.


Assoc. Prof. Judi Homewood
Tel: (02) 9850 8652 | E-mail:

Dr. Theresa Winchester-Seeto
Tel: (02) 9850 8446 | E-mail:

Christa Jacenyik-Trawöger
Tel: (02) 9850 9624 | E-mail:

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