Experiences of distance doctoral supervision in cross-cultural teams

Reem Alebaikan*, Yvonne Bain, Sarah Cornelius

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In distance cross-cultural supervision scenarios PhD students are supported by supervisors located in different cultural contexts, which may, or may not be, the same as that of the student. Very little research has been conducted into experiences of cross-cultural supervision. This paper aims to address this gap by exploring opportunities and challenges for students and supervisors. Participants were Saudi Arabian students, and UK and Saudi based supervisors. It is informed by qualitative research into the experiences of students and supervisors. Investigation of three main areas - roles and expectations, communications and technology, and personal and professional development – revealed common issues, and some specific to either students or supervisors. These include language, feedback, technology and professional learning and align with ‘intensifiers’ identified as making supervision complex or difficult for international PhD students (Winchester-Seeto et al. 2014). However, other issues were also identified which need to be discussed openly to ensure that the potential benefits of cross-cultural supervision are realised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Early online date28 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2020


  • PhD supervision
  • cross-cultural supervision
  • international PhD experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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