English as a medium of instruction in tertiary education:
A longitudinal qualitative study from the perspectives of
Language Management Theory in KSA


English has been increasingly used as a medium of instruction (EMI) in many universities in non-Anglophone countries. This global policy trend in higher education is mainly driven by internationalisation of higher education, developing human capital for national participation in the globalized economy and the job market, and enhancing global ranking of local universities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), like other Gulf countries, introduced EMI in its higher education being driven by similar economic and political ambitions.

Essentially, EMI is strong in policy and weak in pedagogy. Therefore, the implementation of EMI has presented numerous challenges for key policy actors including teachers and students in the local context. A substantial body of research has indicated that the policy of using English only and suspending the first language for teaching and learning purposes often locates teachers and students in a “sink or swim” kind of situation. However, there has been relatively little research on how students in particular manage their EMI challenges taking up the role of “language managers”. More critically, we know very little about what happens to students’ EMI problems over time. Students take the EMI torch and run with it, despite the challenges they face in learning and using the language. They do so partly because they also realize that English will make them more accessible to the world, and the world more accessible to them.

This research will explore students’ perspectives on EMI in the College of Medicine of a Saudi university, viewing them as mangers of their language life in the academic setting. In particular, the research will seek to investigate what problems are noted by them in the EMI setting, how they evaluate those problems, and what kind of language adjustment strategies they adopt and implement in managing their EMI life. The research will be located in the field of language policy and planning and draw on Language Management Theory (LMT). A longitudinal qualitative case study will be used as its methodology. The findings will suggest implications for policy, practice and research on EMI in the Saudi and other contexts of higher education.


Date:                           26 July 2018

Time:                           10:00am – 12:00pm

Location:                   Room s328/Building 24

PANEL:                     Dr Susan Creagh (Chair), Dr Simone Smala       


Principal Advisor:    Dr Obaid Hamid

Associate Advisor:    Professor Peter Renshaw


About HDR Confirmation Seminars

The Confirmation Seminar is the first public presentation in the UQ milestone process.

Staff and students are urged to attend to support your colleagues at this first outing of their project.




Building 24