Identities in Transition

The University of Edinburgh has an ongoing partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC), one of the outcomes was the Identities in Transition Project which supports the wellbeing of our students as they transition from the Global South to studying degrees at universities in the Global North.

About the Identities in Transition Research Project

The Identities in Transition project involves a wide array of methods, including in-depth interviews with reflection coaches, focus groups with scholars and photovoice, that the two research teams team carried out in parallel in each institution. This research has been cultivated into the Identities in Transition photovoice booklet covering the insights of Mastercard Foundation Scholars from the University of Edinburgh as they share the photos and stories that reflect the unique characteristics that the process of transition acquires within the setting of the two Universities and their cities of Edinburgh and Vancouver.

How the Identities in Transition Project came about

Most if not many Mastercard Foundation Scholars are leaving their local areas for the first time to travel to the Global North to continue their areas of study, the resources available to Scholars from abroad to feel at home within their new environments may be lacking or in need of improvement.

Scholars called for an action-oriented approach and more support for their holistic wellbeing. The main support system to develop through this research is mentoring (or reflection coaching), with one of the final products of the research​ being a Toolkit for Intercultural Mentors, that can be conceptualised as a working instrument, consisting of suggestions, tools, and training paths for mentors (reflection coaches, career mentors, etc.). These are multi-faceted areas of improvement, needing to find solutions to helping Scholars find more exposure in their fields of study, as well as how to ensure their newfound knowledge is transferable to their African home countries.

The Identities in Transition project allows for a multi-institutional approach to cultivating these solution-based tools through shared discussions of life events and memories.

Hear From Our Researchers

Jesse Jedidia

Third-year undergraduate Electronics and Electrical Engineering

Josephine Chikwana

MSc Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Hammed Kayode Alabi

MS Africa and International Development

What has made this project a success so far

Communication within and between the UBC and UoE teams has been a particularly important factor in achieving the goals and missions of the project. The joint activities, networking, and integration of goals between the UBC and UoE research partners, has played a crucial role in the project’s development and success.

Through photovoice focus group discussions, both research teams and MCF scholars collectively interpreted the scholars’ pictures, narratives and meaning attached to them, while exploring in-depth each theme that was provided as a prompt for every session.

Project outcomes

Through the involvement of MCF scholars as co-researchers, the scholars have gained specialised skills and knowledge related to leadership and knowledge mobilisation. Scholars are receiving practical experience being part of a research team, engaging in data analysis and academic writing.

Through their active engagement in the project, the MCF scholars have also gained valuable self-awareness skills, by tuning into their own feelings and the feelings of others and acquiring a better understanding of their identity and their relationship to their social and academic environments.

This project addresses the substantial gap in knowledge around the transitional experiences of Mastercard Scholars as cultural minorities and how this affects their sense of belonging and academic success. During this research phase, the University of Edinburgh cohort examined experiences that this process of transition creates for Black-African international students and the impact this has on their identity development and how they navigate their new host culture.

Relevant Links

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

Mastercard: Meet our Scholars