Security and identity: threats and anxieties for the internationally mobile student

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The paper reports on an empirical study of Chinese international
students’ experiences of personal safety and security at
universities in a UK city. After locating these concerns in relation
to current political, social and epidemiological contexts, it reviews
the developments that have taken place in our understanding
and theorisation of ‘safety’ and, in particular, ‘security’ of
international students, noting the powerful implications of
Marginson’s most recent conceptualisation of the issues. The
paper proposes the addition of Giddens’s notion of ontological
security to this developed conceptual framework. Findings from
the empirical study make it clear that many students in the study
remain concerned over their safety and security, and feel that
their concerns are not fully appreciated by the ‘authorities’ to
whom they might be expected to turn for support. For
information and support on matters of personal safety, therefore,
these Chinese students’ first recourse is to compatriot fellow
students, reinforcing a sense of inter-dependence based on
shared subjective identities. Rather than treating this ‘incommunity’
solidarity as potentially undermining wider crosscultural
contact and communication, this paper proposes that a
strengthened sense of ‘ontological security’ provides a foundation
for cross-cultural functioning that does not entail cultural
assimilation and a ‘subaltern’ status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-594
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Early online date28 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2022


  • International student
  • intercultural communication
  • ontological security
  • safety and security
  • well-being


Dive into the research topics of 'Security and identity: threats and anxieties for the internationally mobile student'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this