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Bruneian Students on Discovery Year


Full Title : Bruneian Students on Discovery Year: Mobilities Aspirations, Mobilities Decision-Making And Life Course Planning

Funding Amount : BND 14, 515

Start Date : May 2020

Completion Date : 2022

Principal Investigator : Siti Mazidah Hj Mohamad and Exzayrani Haji Sulaiman

Co-investigators : Dr Yabit Alas and Dr Hjh Asiyah az-zahra Haji Ahmad Kumpoh

Research Summary

The field of international student mobilities remains a fertile ground for research as exemplified by the expansion of discourses on students mobilities by researchers within this field over the recent years (Yoon 2014, Cairns 2016, Doughty and Murray 2016, Yang 2018). The nuances in students’ experiences of mobilities offer researchers with rich findings to (re)frame and understand today’s youth mobilities. Focusing on institutionalised mobilities programme within this field, universities worldwide have taken up the rein in actively shaping professional, skilled, culturally competent, and cosmopolitan students via educational curricula that embed short-term to longer-term mobilities. Universiti Brunei Darussalam, a young and emerging university in Southeast Asia, is not excluded from offering such mobility programmes. Via the university’s Discovery Year Programme, students are given the opportunity to gain locally¬ based or overseas experience outside of the university. While the interest in students’ mobilities and the recognition of experiential learning initiatives continue to grow in size and intensities, future aspirations, mobilities aspirations and mobilities decision-making by the students themselves within an institutionalised mobilities programme remain understudied especially in the context of Southeast Asian students mobilities, as argued forcefully by Ortega (2018) and Phan (2018).

Given these gaps in the existing literature in general and in the context of Bruneian students mobilities in particular, focusing on Bruneian students on Discovery Year (SEP, COP, Internship, and Incubation), this project seeks to investigate three interlinked aspects of their mobilities: 1) their future aspirations and life course planning; and 2) their mobility decisions with regards to their Discovery Year; and 3) whether the institution’s Discovery year structure is enabling students to realise their aspirations. The project aims to capture the nuances in Bruneian students Discovery Year mobilities by exploring the complex interplay between their mobilities aspirations, mobility decision-making that are framed as a reflexive process throughout their life at the university, and their reflection and experiences of the Discovery Year contextualised within the local and global contexts and to assess the relevance of UBD’s Discovery Year structure in the forms of students’ placement, activities, and assessments in supporting students to realise their aspirations. The proposed research is operationally divided into two interconnected parts. This is designed in such a way that each operational part can act as a stand-alone research and at the same time conceptually and empirically connected. Research data for Part 1 (Students) are to be elicited by a pre-Discovery Year interview, a post-Discovery Year interview, and a reflective journal written while the programme is running. Research data for Part 2 (University members) are to be elicited by semi-structure interview. Ultimately, this research is hoped to offer insights into the students’ (re)framing and understanding of mobilities, their reworking of aspirations and rethinking of adult future as an ongoing and reflexive activity in the context of today’s precarious condition locally and globally, and the possibility of restructuring the current GenNext curriculum to offer a more relevant mobilities programme suitable to the needs of the future students.

Aims and Objectives

The project aims to capture the nuances in Bruneian students Discovery Year mobilities by focusing on their future aspirations, mobility decision-making that is framed as an on-going process throughout their life at the university, and their reflection and experiences of the Discovery Year and to assess the relevance of UBD’s Discovery Year structure in the forms of students’ placement, activities, and assessments in supporting students to realise their aspirations.

This project seeks to investigates three interlinked aspects of their mobilities:
  1. Their future aspirations and life course planning
  2. Their mobility decisions with regards to their Discovery Year
  3. Whether the institution’s Discovery year structure is enabling students to realise their aspirations

Significance of the Research

Academic Development:

Gain academic staff with skills and knowledge within this research area and to be part of the university’s current and future academic and non-academic development plans. The research data will help to improve the current research, professional training, teaching and curriculum development offered by the university through FASS/ICE/C3L. It would offer findings on these students’ aspirations for mobilities, mobilities concerns, and decision making.

Community Development:

This research could shed light into the local and global contexts and conditions that become the driving factors in their mobility decisions.

Institutional Development:

Data from this research can be used as baseline data for future research on young people, their mobilities aspirations, and actual mobilities. For Universiti Brunei Darussalam, the findings offer an assessment of the significance of the current Discovery Year programme. This would allow UBD to restructure/revamp the current GenNext programme so as to remain competitive regionally and internationally and to nurture students who are capable, cosmopolitan and skilled.