Doctoral Students’ Transition to the Academic Culture of Foreign Universities: Setting the Stage for PhD

  • Dr. Syed Abdul Waheed Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Research & Assessment, Faculty of Education, University of Okara, Pakistan
Keywords: Academic Transition, Austrian Universities, Academic Environment, Socio-academic Integration, PhD, Doctoral Students, Pakistan


International doctoral students’ journey towards their PhD studies begins with finding an appropriate research supervisor and making a transition to the academic environment in a foreign university. The successful academic transition eventually determines the success of doctoral students. The present study aims to examine doctoral students’ experiences of searching for a supervisor, seeking their colleagues’ support for integration into the university and to describe their experiences of shifting to a relatively different field of study. Thirteen Pakistani doctoral students were purposively selected to explore their lived experiences of making the transition to Austrian universities. The Phenomenological research approach guided the present study. The data collected through interviewing the participants was thematically analyzed that lead to the emergence of the themes; finding a supportive supervisor, developing a research proposal, support for transition and transition to a different field. The themes revealed that it was hard and by chance to get a supportive supervisor while being in another country. Doctoral students’ colleagues supported them to explore the institutional environment that helped them integrate into the university. Nevertheless, shifting to a relatively different field of research was challenging and slowed down the process of transition. The research has implications for prospective doctoral students for adequate preparation before entering into a foreign university.