Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Jan Gray

Second Advisor

Professor Brenda Cherednichenko


This research explores the experiences and insights of ten Middle Eastern Gulf women as they cross international borders to study in Australian universities. The literature indicates that international students in Australia establish their identity within the context of their overseas existence. This is particularly important as Muslims may feel they are being placed in a precarious situation due to, more often than not, terrorism being linked to Islam. Also, when Muslim women wear Islamic or traditional attire, the general public tends to look upon them with curiosity. With this in mind, the complex and changed contexts faced by ten Middle Eastern Gulf female post-graduate students are investigated using qualitative research methods. Utilising a grounded theory approach to interpret data and identify themes from two online questionnaires and personal interviews, individual portraits are created to illuminate their experiences. The research findings reveal new knowledge indicating that education is a structured mechanism for the participants, resulting in the creation of a new hybrid self as a key instrument for survival. This enables them to better understand cultural contexts and barriers arising from class, tradition, religion and learning. The participants indicate that a two-way agreement between educators and learners is paramount to a smooth transition into the Australian education system and a positive return to their home communities.